The brand-new baseball turf at Veterans Memorial Park is about to see a busy week’s worth of action.
The Salamanca baseball team has planned an inaugural Veteran’s Cup Tournament, inviting seven other schools to join an eight-team tournament field with two games scheduled each day from Monday, May 17, through Saturday, May 22.
The tournament begins with an opening game Monday at 4:30 between Salamanca and Ellicottville, and wraps up with a championship game Saturday at 7 p.m. under the lights at Vets Park. Each team is guaranteed three games during the week.
Salamanca coach Mike Smith said his goals in starting the tournament including honoring area veterans, as local vets’ clubs have agreed to help out, and allow for neighboring schools to learn about Seneca Nation history. The baseball program partnered with the Onöhsagwë:de’ Cultural Center to provide museum tours to visiting teams throughout the week.
“Joe Stahlman, the director, is giving each team as they come to town a tour of the cultural center,” Smith said. “Our booster club has arranged that. So when Portville comes to play Monday night at 6:30, they're going to come to town at 4:30 and tour the Cultural Center and then come to Vets Park. Then after our game, Ellicottville will receive the tour. So it's kind of an educational thing too, which helped me sell it to the ADs.”
The top half of the bracket, playing Monday, includes Salamanca, Ellicottville, Portville and Cattaraugus-Little Valley. The bottom half, playing Tuesday, includes Randolph, Frewsburg, Silver Creek and Cassadaga Valley. The winners of each bracket will face off in the championship Saturday night. A program including rosters for all eight teams will be available for fans.
Early in the season after some practices at the new Vets Park, Smith summed up his reaction to the field with two words: "oh man."
Clearly, the Warriors are excited to show off their new digs for some teams from nearby schools.
“We had spoken about going to Outer Banks again for Spring Break and then with this pandemic-altered schedule, (athletic director) Rich Morton said, 'well, why don't you run a tournament, show off the new field?'” Smith said. “So we hooked up with the baseball boosters' club, which has put this tournament on and they're thankful to the schools and very thankful to Section 6. Our league does not start until the next Monday, the 24th, so we can get three games that week, which is wonderful as a pre-league season warm-up against teams that we're compatible with.”
Smith cited Salamanca connections across the bracket, from former Salamanca coach Mike Janisch in Silver Creek to Salamanca native Ellicottville coach Chris Mendell. He’s also eager for fans to see talented players like Randolph catcher Ashton Bushey, hard-throwing Ellicottville pitcher Lucas Marsh and a deep Portville roster.
“I want to bring that talent here and show them off in hopefully a good setting,” Smith said. “Hopefully the booster club and I can arrange and run this tournament, really put on a good show and make it an annual thing.”
Salamanca Baseball Veteran’s Cup Tournament
Monday’s Games (May 17)
Game 1: Salamanca vs. Ellicottville, 4:30 p.m.
Game 2: Portville vs. Cattaraugus-Little Valley, 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday’s Games (May 18)
Game 3: Cassadaga Valley vs. Silver Creek, 4:30 p.m.
Game 4: Frewsburg vs. Randolph, 6:30 pm..
Wednesday’s Games (May 19)
Game 5: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 4:30 p.m.
Game 6: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 6:30 p.m.
Thursday’s Games (May 20)
Game 7: Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser, 4:30 p.m.
Game 8: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 6:30 p.m.
Friday's Games (May 21)
Game 9: Game 6 loser vs. Game 8 loser, 4:30 p.m.
Game 10: Game 5 winner vs. Game 7 winner, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday’s Games (May 22)
Game 11: Game 5 loser vs. Game 7 loser, 5 p.m.
Game 12 (Championship Game): Game 6 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 7 p.m.