Trust me, removing the tarp after a rain delay isn’t easy

Helping hand: Daily Sentinel staffers Patrick Bahr, far right, and Christopher Tomlinson, far left, help with the tarp after Monday’s rain delay.

Don’t let anyone tell you maintaining a baseball field is easy.

It’s not like cleaning a room, where you stuff everything in the closet and call it good.

Maintaining a baseball field is hard work.

Not making the job any easier has been the nearly two inches of rain Grand Junction has gotten since the opening pitch of the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series on Saturday morning.

The recent tradition of soaking up the late May sun during JUCO and enjoying a little baseball was a no-show during the first three days.

Case in point: the JUCO committee and the grounds crew. The two groups have been working overtime to keep Suplizio Field as playable as possible.

Monday, the tarp made its second in-game appearance as heavy rains hit during the first inning of the game between Cowley County (Kan.) Community College and Santa Fe (Fla.)
College. What started as a light drizzle turned into a downpour in minutes, forcing the delay of the game and the tarp to come out.

Committee and grounds crew members began sweeping water into the first-base drain.

Once that drain became full; the water was redirected into the outfield by using a large blower.

“The infield drain is maxed out, so we took it to center field,” Tournament Chairman Jamie Hamilton said. “The outfield drain isn’t as saturated, so we are going to take the water right there.”

Once it was time to take the tarp off, I decided to do my civic duty and grab a corner.

With the direction of committee member Walt Bergman (who was a mentor to me four years ago when I spent a game as a ball shagger), I grabbed and pulled.

The key to effectively pulling a tarp is keeping everything even. That is why it takes about 25 individuals each time the tarp has had to be used.

Grand Junction senior Aaron Berk is in his second year working on the grounds crew, and is earning every cent of his wages this year.

When I asked him if he knew it was going to be this much work this year, he fired back with a “Oh, God, no.”

Berk said after all the rain, they are trying to stay ahead of the storms.

“If there is a big storm coming, then we try to get a lot of guys out here,” Berk said. “Because it goes faster the more people you have out here.”

One of the neatest things from the “tarping on” and “tarping off” has been the collection of volunteers.

I might be going out on a limb here, but I don’t think many national tournaments have their tournament director and the mayor (Bruce Hill) dragging a tarp in the rain.

“That is what’s great about our tournament,” Hamilton said.  “The volunteers come out and do the work.”

I’ve done my part, and I hope the rain leaves our tournament alone for the rest of the week.


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