Storm damage has Chiefs seeking alternate fields
By Mike Clark Post-Tribune correspondent June 29, 2013 11:04PM
Updated: August 2, 2013 7:14AM
Dave Sutkowski has seen this before and it’s getting old.
For the third time in five years, Riverside Park — the home field for Sutkowski’s Indiana Chiefs of Hammond — has sustained major weather-related damage.
Thursday night’s storms wreaked havoc around Northwest Indiana, leaving many homes, businesses and public buildings without power. And Riverside, which was damaged by a storm in 2008 and flooding in 2009, took another hit.
“The dugout on the third-base side is pretty much gone,” Sutkowski said Friday from Alabama, where the Chiefs 17-and-under team is playing in a tournament. “The (dugout) roof is gone. All the fencing in left and right is down.
“It’s worse than (what) we had in 2008.”
The damage is severe enough that the Chiefs won’t be able to play any of their five remaining home games at Riverside this season. Sutkowski plans to scout alternate locations for those contests while continuing to practice on the undamaged parts of the field. He also hopes to have repairs done in time for the Chiefs’ fall league, which gets underway around the beginning of September.
While the damage has undone much of the work that has been put into upgrading Riverside in recent years, Sutkowski also looked at the bigger picture. He is thankful that the bad weather hit when his team was out of town.
“It’s fortunate,” he said. “That hit at 6, 6:15 — on a normal game day, we’d all be there.”
Portage to host Junior state: District 1 Little League will host one state tournament this season, the Junior League baseball event for 13- and 14-year-olds. Play begins July 25 at the Portage Little League complex.
It’s the latest in a series of state tournaments for older players hosted by District 1. District administrator Steve Heck is considering raising the stakes in the future by trying to land the Big League Baseball (17-18) Central Regional — one of the qualifiers for that division’s World Series.
“I’d put in for a three-year contract,” said Heck, who is optimistic sponsors could be found to help cover the costs of running the eight-day tournament.
More tourney news: Highland American Legion Post 180 beat the Northwest Indiana Rippers to win the recent Chiefs Invitational.
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