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New Haven Register (Connecticut)
It may have opened a year late, but Dunkin' Donuts Park seems to have been worth the wait.
The new ballpark located on the outskirts of downtown Hartford has generated almost unanimous rave reviews since officially opening on Thursday night. While serving as home of the Hartford Yard Goats, the park has already hosted a college baseball game (Quinnipiac vs. Hartford on April 11) and will host another on May 7, when Hartford faces Army. There is talk that it could soon host the America East tournament, as well.
How about high school games, you ask? That could happen, too. And it could happen pretty soon.
The CIAC will hold its state championship rounds at Middletown's Palmer Field once again this year. This is the second year of a three-year contract with the field, so the championships won't be heading to Dunkin' Donuts Park anytime too soon.
But the semifinal rounds could be a different story. Currently, the semifinals are slated to take place at Palmer, Waterbury's Municipal Field, Muzzy Field in Bristol and Dodd Stadium in Norwich. But nothing is set in stone, and it's possible that Dunkin' Donuts Park (as well as the new field at Trinity College) could be used instead.
"We're committed to running the best tournament possible," said CIAC baseball tournament director Fred Balsamo. "Location is always an issue, so it's nice to have flexibility."
In other words, if it looks as though there won't be many (if any) teams from a certain area of the state, one of the current semifinal sits could be switched to a more centralized location like Dunkin' Donuts Park or Trinity. The semifinals are slated to start June 6, but such a switch could be made even with only a week or so in advance, if it makes geographical sense.
"There's always the possibility of using the other two parks," said Balsamo. "They came online late. We booked (the other four) in October. All four of those sites are the ones we intend to use. But if Dunkin' Donuts Park or Trinity looks more advantageous, we would contact them."
Of course, the CIAC would have to come to terms with either of those fields. Since Dunkin' Donuts Park is essentially a professional facility, there are issues that the CIAC would have to resolve before using the field. Balsamo and other CIAC members plan on meeting Yard Goats director of hospitality and events Andres Levy and other members of the organization over the next week or two.
While CIAC officials haven't visited the new ballpark yet, they have had plenty of contact with the Yard Goats. Two years ago, shortly after the team was officially named, members of the organization met with the CIAC, showing them artist renderings and a virtual online tour of the new park.
Now, at long last, the park is up and running. And Connecticut high school baseball could be played inside of it in the not-too-distant future.
"It's nice that people want us, that's the great thing," said Balsamo. "We want to provide high school players with the best possible location and the best possible fields."
Waterford's Michael Burrows hurled a no-hitter with 21 strikeouts against 22 batters faced in an 11-0 victory at Killingly on April 10, according to a report in The Day of New London.
It is believed to be the second time in Connecticut history a pitcher struck out 21 in a seven-inning game since West Haven's Aaron Sellner did it against Hamden in 1992.
Burrows, a junior, threw 84 pitches and struck out the first 19 batters he faced, according to The Day. With one out in the bottom of the seventh, however, Killingly's 20th batter broke up the perfect-K game by laying down a bunt and getting thrown out at first.
Burrows struck out the 21st batter, but that batter reached via a wild pitch on the third strike, ending the perfect game.
David Borges can be reached at email@example.com Follow David on Twitter @DaveBorges.
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