There may only be four teams in the Constellation Energy League, but the league created by the Sugar Land Skeeters in this coronavirus altered year has provided plenty of energy and excitement at the ballpark.
The double-header on Sunday saw the Sugar Land Lightning Sloths no-hit Team Skeeters for a 2-0 win. The other game of the evening was decided by a home run derby where Tommy Joseph’s dinger led Team Texas over Eastern Reyes del Tigre 6-5.
That was the second game of the weekend settled by a home run derby. On Saturday, Courtney Hawkins blasted a walk-off shot that gave the Skeeters a 3-2 win over Texas.
The no-hitter by the Lightning Sloths was the first ever thrown at Constellation Field in the ballpark’s eight-year history. Pat Ledet, Ryan Newell, Zac Rosscup, Robbie Ross, David Huff and Kevin McCanna combined for the historic feat. It was a seven-inning game and in the process they struck out seven batters. Newell was credited with the win and McCanna the save. Brandon Beachy took the loss for the Skeeters.
“It’s pretty neat anytime you can accomplish something like that,” manager Greg Swindell said.
He said he has been treating these first games like spring training, giving the starter a couple innings and then going to the bullpen. He said he first began to suspect midway through that they could pull off a no-hitter.
“With the lefties I had throwing and Ryan Newell coming in I began to think it could happen around the third or fourth inning,” he said.
Swindell said several of his players didn’t realize there was a no-hitter going until the end of the seventh.
“As a baseball player you don’t say anything about what’s going on on the scoreboard,” he said. “I was nervous … wanting them to do it.”
He said he feels the new league is giving his players an advantage in their big-league dreams because they are playing professional ball while others are not.
“I would not be surprised if some of these guys got picked up before it was over,” he said.
Skeeters General Manager Tyler Stamm said he has been pleased with the way the league has been going, especially considering it was cobbled together in a month.
“I think it’s been overwhelmingly positive … just great,” he said.
Stamm said the organization and the fans have had to adhere to strict guidelines in order to have games this year but so far no one is complaining.
“Our players are taking this way more seriously than I could possibly imagine,” he said.
Face covering are required by all fans when not sitting in their seats and non-starting players and coaches must wear the masks during the games. Stamm said fans, like most people, don’t like having to wear masks but say it’s worth it to be at live baseball games again.
“We’ve only had to ask one guy to leave because we would not wear a mask,” Stamm said.
To comply with social distancing guidelines, seating at the 7,500-seat stadium is capped at about 1,900. Stamm said there were 1,852 people in attendance on Opening Day July 10, and they’ve been selling an average of 1,400 tickets per game over the first eight games.
When the league started play, it was the only professional baseball league in operation across the country. Since then, other pop-up leagues have started playing and Major League Baseball begins a 60-game season on Friday, but without fans in the stands.
“It’s kind of interesting being on the forefront of this,” Stamm said. “On a professional level, we are setting the standard.”