Colton Venner, who worked with Westport coach Chris Markwica when Keene and Westport were a merged team on his pitching, threw a complete game against his former coach as the Beavers scored their first win of the season against the Eagles April 25.
In 2010 and 2011, Beagle-ball was the buzzword in Section VII/Class D baseball.
The team, comprised of student athletes from Keene and Westport, earned a pair of trips to the sectional championship game before not joining together as a merged team in 2012.
This year, players from Keene and Westport came together again — not as teammates, but to renew acquaintances as foes on the diamond.
The April 25 game between the former allies was also the first win for the Beavers, who defeated the Eagles 11-7 for their first victory wearing the home orange-and-black since a drop in numbers made them merge teams with Westport three years ago.
“I am sure that they knew a little about the history between these teams,” Keene head coach and Athletic Director Fred Hooper said. “I didn’t want to put that added pressure on them saying that we needed to go out and play hard against a team we used to be a part of, our goal is to just get better every day because we do not have any kids who have played on a varsity team.”
Hooper said that the way the team was brought together this season is a testament to the overall philosophy of the school they attend.
“We have a couple kids who came out to play just so we could have a team,” Hooper said. “This team really embodies the true spirit of Keene Central School. You have guys who are really excited and want to get out there and play and they all came together as a group and said they wanted to play and bring baseball back to Keene.”
Through the early part of the season, the team has been able to focus on improving its fundamental skills as well as a team concept of the sport.
“The attitude is just great,” Hooper said. “They all make every practice and they work hard until the end each day. The first couple of games we took it on the chin, but they came back each time wanting to get better and to continue to battle.”
“We have a lot of people who have not played before,” sophomore Colton Venner, who pitched a complete game in the win, said. “We worked a lot of the fundamentals in the pre-season and the first game was just about getting into the flow of baseball and varsity. It wasn’t about the score. Everyone is giving their best effort all the time.”
“This year we are looking to learn, and everyone’s attitude has been great,” junior Brandon Dumas said. “Winning a game was nice, as well.”
While no members of the current Keene roster were members of the Beagles (Beavers and EAGLES), Westport seniors Gabe Schrauf and John Doyle along with junior Tyrell Tryon were. So were current Eagles coaches Don and Chris Markwica, a father-son duo who were the co-coaches representing Westport and Keene, respectively.
“I was not a member of the Beagles, but I remember watching them play together and working with coach (Chris) Markwica,” Venner said. “He helped me out a lot with pitching. It felt nice to see him again and to play as well as we did against them.”
The April 25 game was the only scheduled meeting between the two squads this season, as they are in different divisions of the Mountain and Valley Athletic Conference.