Phoenix Deschamps might have missed a sign before belting a three-run home run in the fourth inning Monday, but there was no missing old Macombs Dam Park for All Hallows and Cardinal Hayes.
The Bronx CHSAA rivals now both call Heritage Field, on the site of the old Yankee Stadium and in the shadows of the current stadium, home. The opening of the facility was Monday’s league opener, won by All Hallows, 8-1.
“I’m a huge Yankees fan and to know that greats played on this field, on the same spot I’m playing, I’m grateful for that,” Deschamps said.
All Hallows is a short walk from Heritage Field, but the team spent last year playing on a number of fields – in various forms of repair – en route to an appearance in the CHSAA Class AA title game. Most of the players never played on the old Macombs Field, and that’s a good thing, according to All Hallows coach Ed Gutierrez.
“It’s really special due to the fact that for so many years we played at Macombs Field and the old Macombs was a horrible field to play on,” Gutierrez said.
And it’s All Hallows and Cardinal Hayes new home for the foreseeable future.
“It’s a tremendous treat,” Hayes coach Curt Scheibe said. “It’s both our fields from here on in. The only stipulation is that we maintain it to a certain degree.”
Home plate at Heritage Field faces out to River Avenue – like the old stadium – and there are blue markings to indicate where home plate, the pitchers mound and the bases were in the House That Ruth Built, which was torn down in March, 2010.
There’s a part of the famed façade in center field and even a short porch in right. That was something Deschamps took advantage of after missing Gutierrez’s sign for a suicide bunt with All Hallows leading 3-0 with runners at second and third with no outs in the fourth inning.
Deschamps made up for the mistake, turning on the next pitch and sending it over the short fence in right after a gusty wind kept it dancing along the foul line.
“They’ve been working me outside the whole game,” Deschamps said. “I wasn’t able to get on the outside pitch all game, but he gave me an inside fastball and I was able to turn on it. I didn’t know it was out until I rounded second base.”
Randy Torres, who twice reached on bunts, had three runs scored and a stolen base, added a two-run, inside-the-park home run in the fifth inning. That was more than enough offense for starter Joe Morel, who pitched six scoreless innings before his shutout bid was broken up by Mark Vargas’ RBI-single to right in the seventh.
“He’s been pretty consistent through the non-league games throwing strikes and getting out of big spots by throwing strikes when he needs to,” Gutierrez said. “He displayed that today, obviously.”
Things could have been different had Morel not worked out of back-to-back bases-loaded jams in the third and fourth inning. But both times he bore down and escaped unscathed.
“I was just really trying to hit my spots, outside corner especially because I was throwing inside and they were getting a couple of shots off me,” Morel said. “My infield was doing great this game so I was trying to work on my changeup, make them miss on something on the ground to get out of the inning.”
Morel, who spotted his fastball for strikes and mixed in an effective changeup, allowed one earned run on seven hits, striking out nine with three walks.
“It’s an honor to play on this field,” Morel said. “I actually thought I was playing at Yankee Stadium for a minute when I started off in the first inning.”
It wasn’t the big ballpark in The Bronx, but now All Hallows and Cardinal Hayes both have a brand new field of dreams.
“I love this new field,” Deschamps said. “It feels good to have somewhere where you can call your home.”
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