By Deacon Tom Picciano
Sun contributing writer
BINGHAMTON — They wore the familiar logo of Seton Catholic Central and borrowed from the name of a historic area minor league baseball team. The Triple Cities Saints made their mark on the diamond this summer.
The Saints played to a 9-6 record in the Southern Tier Teen League. They were just a step away from the playoffs in the 25-team division. Coach Dave Ligeikis noted that a 4-3 loss in the semifinals came in a 10-inning game against Binghamton.
“Considering the fact that we had been beaten up by them pretty bad earlier in the season is a testament to how far the team came,” he said. “Over our last 10 games we were 8 and 2.”
Most of the players on the Saints came from Seton’s JV baseball team. They’re age 16 and younger, with the youngest player in seventh grade.
“The team has a lot of potential. It’s a relatively young team. If we can keep them together two or three years down the road, it may produce some very good outcomes for the baseball program at Seton,” Ligeikis said.
But the summer team’s purpose was more than just athletics.
“We wanted to show people that the Catholic schools were alive and well,” he said, “And maybe entice some kids to come to Seton to play baseball or just to come to the Catholic school system because of the things they see going on.”
Coach Matt Martinkovic said it’s important to keep Saints under the Catholic schools umbrella. He said many of the players have been together for several years and will end up on Seton’s varsity team.
“This helps promote them but also helps promote Seton sports,” he said, “to show that there are very positive things going on even in the summer for positive schools.”
“I love baseball,” said catcher Connor Ligeikis. He said that it was a great team, “Just to keep everybody playing together.”
Connor said there’s more than athletics at Seton.
“I like it because you pretty much know everybody there. In bigger schools you wouldn’t be able to do that. All your teachers know you, too. You get along with everybody pretty good. I think you can learn more, too.”
Connor has a suggestion for students considering a place for academics and athletics. “I’d tell them to go to Seton. I think they have a better chance to play here than at one of the bigger schools,” he said.
“I think every player contributes just as much as the rest. I think there is something special about this team, we played everybody,” said Coach Martinkovic. “But when we brought in people, there wasn’t a weakness, with just one person going in just filling a spot. All of them were exceptional baseball players.”
Players and parents came up with the nearly $1,000 for umpire fees, league fees and insurance to field the Triple Cities Saints. They’re looking at the possibility of sponsors for next season. Coach Ligeikis said they’re considering their options, including the potential to become a travel team. They’re also looking at the American Legion League which already has one team from SCC.
“I think it would be great if every Seton sports program could have an offshoot during the non-school year to keep their teams together and play in the non-season,” Ligeikis said. “I think that would only prove to strengthen the team, but also strengthen the camaraderie during the off season.”