From Aug. 1 through 4, the Keystone State Games held its baseball tournament with a familiar face in the dugout.
Former Tunkhannock Area High School baseball player, Jack Fenwick, will be coaching the Pocono Region team this summer after having played for the squad before.
“I got involved with KSG because of my father, he encouraged me to try out the summer before my freshman year and I have been involved every year since,” said Fenwick, a 2017 TAHS grad. “The coaches I had, and now coach with, have changed my life, I would not be the baseball player or man I am today without them.”
Fenwick is now on the diamond at Alvernia University.
He said, “I have always been interested in coaching, even as a player I would help out my teammates where I could. My favorite part, though, is seeing the players growth from working with you and seeing where they end up when they leave the program.”
According to Fenwick, every school district has the opportunity to be represented in their region. The number of schools actually represented changes from year to year.
Normally, regions offer two teams per region, one team with rising freshman and sophomores and one team with rising juniors and seniors.
The Tunkhannock native has played baseball for as long as he can remember. From the high school fields, where he earned four varsity letters, to the field at Alvernia, the KSG have helped him become the player and now coach he is today.
“I played four years of KSG baseball for the Pocono Region. Without it I am almost positive I would not be playing college baseball. The coaches are some of the smartest I have ever seen, and they know how to pass that knowledge on. They prepared me in both my mechanics and my mental strength during games,” he said.
That mental strength has been a bonus, as Fenwick walked onto the Golden Wolves team.
“Alvernia is a super competitive baseball school, we have been in the running for the regular season title, the MAC tournament title and been to regionals both years I’ve been with the team so far,” said the first baseman. “I played in 15 games my sophomore year as a walk-on, which is difficult and doesn’t happen that often.”
As for the Keystone State Games, Fenwick highly recommends the tournament, and not just for baseball, but for every sport.
“They have a lot more sports than people think and they are all run very well. When players take the field, the guys react as most players do- with excitement and enthusiasm. They take the opportunity of playing on the better fields and try to prove they can play there in the future,” he explained.
As the games are a statewide tournament, the amount of pride shown by the players increases over regular competitions.
Fenwick added, “The years I was involved as a player, there was a good amount of PA pride but mainly it was which region of was better at that time. The past few years it has not been that way, mainly because we are struggling to find players to compete from every region.”
According to Fenwick, Jeff Labatch who runs all of KSG, and Sean Foley the Pocono baseball coordinator and Head Coach, are the driving forces behind the games.
“They both do more behind the scenes work than anyone could imagine,” he added.
This year’s Pocono Region featured two squads and kicked off competition on Thursday, Aug. 1 at the University of Scranton in pool play for a showcase.
All teams played a total of five games in the Keystone Scholastic Division. The division was made up of teams from Pocono (2), Blue Mountain (2), Lehigh Valley, and West.
Actual games began on Friday, Aug. 2 when Team 1 faced Blue Mountain 1 at King’s College and Team 2 played West at Hilldale. Saturday saw both teams in a doubleheader concluding with a head-to-head face off at Hilldale in the afternoon. Sunday was the championship bracket.