Local college baseball teams face uphill battle

When it comes to athletics at the collegiate level, none have been put more at a competitive disadvantage than the baseball teams at San Bernardino Valley College and Cal State San Bernardino, neither of whom have a field to call their own.

This is the second year the Wolverines have had to bear the nomad label, treking everywhere from Fiscalini Field to Arrowhead Credit Union Park to the University of Redlands. Yucaipa High School. Cal Baptist. You name the field, they have probably played there.

The team had to abandon its field for games when neighbors started compaining about balls flying into the street which runs behind the outfield fence. It gets worse when balls are flying through windows so it is an understandable complaint.

Athletic director Dave Rubio said the school wants to extend the netting in the left field area to prevent that problem and enable the team to use its field for games. That could be done before the team opens its 2009 season. Let’s hope that is the case. It may be costly. But in the meantime the school is doling out money to rent venues elsewhere – about $1,500 for a day at ACUP. That adds up too.

It is admirable that the Wolverines are in the playoff hunt at all, given the circumstances. Coach Bill Mierzwik said his players have maintained a positive attitude which is also admirable.

Cal State is in much the same boat but it has always been in that boat. But that doesn’t make it easier. The Coyotes have primarily used ACUP and Fiscalini but with SBVC having to use both too, scheduling has been a nightmare.

Coach Don Parnell said the school has an agreement in place, though not formalized, that would result in Fiscalini being the Coyotes primary playing ground. The city would foot the bill for some improvements and employ a fulltime groundskeeper while Cal State would help fund other upgrades including moving the fence back to a more legitimate haul. That would benefit both parties.

Fiscalini is in need of a major facelift as it has been deteriorating for years. A fresh coat of paint would help. And the scoreboard hasn’t work in . . . well. It has been a LONG time!

This is in no way suggesting that athletics are more important than academics. The budget crunch has hit every area of education. But there are benefits to athletics. There are a lot of athletes who have no other options than a local school. Maybe athletics is their only other way to an education.

It is just a matter of all the parties putting their egos aside and figuring out a solution that can benefit everyone.

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