District 11 will hold a Monday press conference at Lehigh Valley Baseball Academy to announce the details of a partnership that will keep its four championship baseball games at Coca-Cola Park this season.
The path teams travel to the title games will feature a few new wrinkles if all goes according to plan.
District 11 has lined up four neutral sites with lights — Easton's Hackett Park, Parkland, Limeport Stadium and Pine Grove — to host district semifinal doubleheaders on Friday, May 24. The tentative plan calls for each classification to play its semifinals at one site (4A at Hackett, 3A at Parkland, 2A at Limeport and A at Pine Grove).
District 11 baseball chairman and Allen athletic director Scott Cooperman was one of the driving forces behind the idea.
"It's nice to have facilities that have lights and are more stadium-oriented," he said during a phone interview this week. "I'm all about promoting baseball as best we can. I think the doubleheader atmosphere gives a better crowd for everybody. It's also easier for the media because you have possibly four sites to cover instead of eight."
Using sites with lights is the biggest plus in the plan. It will allow District 11 to start games a little later, giving parents and fans more time to travel to games. Playing at fields with lights also will reduce the chances that a rain delay will force a game to be postponed or suspended due to darkness.
Cooperman emphasized that the semifinal plan is tentative. Weather, travel distances for competing schools and school activities like proms all could force site tweaks.
"Hopefully it will all work out," Cooperman said. "There's always negatives in everything that you do, but I think the positives outweigh the negatives. I like trying to keep the student-athlete in mind first and make it the best event to put on."
The District 11 baseball tournament will also feature one other significant change — the days on which games are scheduled.
Over the past three years, teams played on a Monday-Tuesday-Thursday schedule (weather permitting) during the first week of the district tournament. The four district finals were then played at Coca-Cola Park in the middle of the tournament's second week.
This season the first week of the tournament is slated to follow a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule (May 20-22-24). The title games will again fall in the middle of the second week (May 28-29).
The schedule change would allow a team that plays Monday and advances to Friday a chance to use the same starting pitcher in both games. In the PIAA playoffs, teams can navigate the entire tournament relying on two starters because of the way games are scheduled.
"Let's face it — we want to try to get our best teams out of District 11," Cooperman said. "If in states you can get away with two pitchers, then in district playoffs you should be able to get away with two pitchers.
"At least in the initial setup, we've tried to make it fair."
• Muhlenberg suffered a doubleheader sweep Saturday against McDaniel but still enjoyed a rewarding day. The Mules raised nearly $8,000 for the Vs. Cancer Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps fund childhood cancer research.
Some of the money Muhlenberg raised through pledges and donations went to the Lehigh Valley Health Network to help local children who are battling cancer. Twenty-three players and coaches also partially or fully shaved their heads after Saturday's doubleheader.
• East Stroudsburg senior outfielder Eric Boyer (Southern Lehigh) went into a Thursday doubleheader against Bloomfield leading the Warriors with a .381 batting average. He also ranked second on the team in runs (20) and RBIs (20).
• Lehigh freshman Mike Garzillo tied a Patriot League record last week with six hits in a 15-7 win over Drew. Garzillo, The Morning Call's 2011 baseball player of the year while at Nazareth, also had six RBIs in that game.