Wed, Jun 19, 2024 5:30 PM

Nelson Heat trio head to World Series


Jack Malcolm

Three aspiring local baseballers and their coach are on their way to America ahead of debuting at the International World Series.

Carlos Thompson, Beiro Polanco and Mahe Reilly flew out on Monday morning alongside their regular season coach, Hayden Thompson, who is an assistant coach for the team.

"At this kind of age in the American system, this is where the college coaches and selectors start casting their eyes,” says Hayden

"The level they're at, the pitchers are really having movement on the ball. . . Some guys in the US are getting up to 80 [miles per hour] with their pitches.”

Nelson College’s Mahe is behind the plate, having moved into the catcher's position recently and saying he's enjoyed the change.

"You're in every play in the game.

"It's hard, though. When they swing, you've just got to hope your glove is in front of the ball. You can't see anything."

As the oldest of the trio of players, he has six years of baseball experience without any softball background.

Hayden says there are differences between the two codes, but a competent player could make the change.

Two of the biggest differences are the view batters see of the ball, with softballs rising from an underhand pitch while baseballs are falling into the strike zone from an overhand throw, as well as the size of the field.

Because baseball uses a larger diamond and outfield, local games are played on a grass field in the Saxton complex because the local softball facilities do not meet their needs.

As a pitcher, Carlos says the smaller fields would mean a lot more home runs because the pitches are coming into and off the bat at faster speeds and with less resistance due to a smaller ball.

He also has six years of experience, having built up a wheelhouse of different pitch types that move differently in the air to fool the batters.

"I have a fastball, a two-seam [fastball], a curve, a slurve, a slider and a change-up."

Beiro's dream is to earn a scholarship to play and study in America, having moved to town two years ago from the Dominican Republic.

As the son of a former New York Mets big leaguer, Eliooth Polanco, he started playing six years ago.

His favourite team is the New York Yankees, likely to his father's mild displeasure as his former cross-town rivals, because it's who one of Beiro's favourite players, Juan Soto plays for.

All three players say they're excited to gauge themselves against some of the best players in the world their age.

With 24 teams from across America in their division, they are the only international team involved.

Alongside the tournament, played in California, the team also has time for a trip to Disney Land as part of the holiday.

"It wouldn't make sense to travel all that way and not go," says Hayden.

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