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Regulators Cancel Season

Times Observer Photo by Matt Spielman Warren’s Lance Baldensperger played for the Southern Tier Regulators last summer.

Jay Grann has been through a rollercoaster of emotions this spring and summer.

The ride took another dip Thursday evening.

Grann, the head coach of the Southern Tier Regulators 18U baseball team, was forced to cancel his team’s summer season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m just disappointed we had to make this decision,” Grann said Thursday night.

The Regulators 18U team, which was formed in the summer of 2018 to represent northwestern Pennsylvania and Chautauqua County in the Babe Ruth World Series at Diethrick Park that summer, was scheduled to play in four tournaments this year.

When New York state announced recently that youth sports could return July 6, as long as the Western New York region was in Phase 4 of reopening by then, it created a glimmer of hope for Grann and his players.

But just yesterday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that New York, Connecticut and New Jersey were imposing a travel advisory on visitors coming from or residents going to states with high COVID-19 statistics.

Therefore, if the Regulators were to leave New York state for a tournament in nearby Ohio, for example, the team would be required to quarantine for 14 days upon its return to Western New York.

“For a program like us, who has to travel around, we had a lot of hope a couple of weeks ago when the governor announced baseball was a sport that could be played,” Grann said. “Sometime in the last week, some stipulations were added that won’t allow us to travel out of state. That just doesn’t work for us.”

The cancellation will also affect a Regulators 16U team that was supposed to play its first summer slate this year.

“We hope to keep at least two teams going if not more at some point,” Grann said. “We really thought we were in the process of building something really good for this area.”

The decision is just the latest blow to high school-aged athletes in the region.

Some of them had the final weeks of their winter sports seasons affected by the pandemic when schools were closed indefinitely in mid-March.

When those indefinite closures extended through the end of the school year, athletes lost their spring sports seasons.

“To keep the players interested we really needed to be able to go to these tournaments and compete against some of the region’s best,” Grann said. “It would’ve been probably difficult to find local competition on a regular basis in our age group.”

Grann is also the head coach of the Frewsburg Bears, who like other New York state high schools, had just one week of practice before their season was canceled.

Aaron Hair, a senior on that Frewsburg team and the Regulators who will play baseball at Mercyhurst University in the fall, expressed his disappointment and gratitude Thursday evening on Twitter.

“With the announcement that our 2020 @SouthernTierBB summer has been canceled, I’d like to thank Coach Grann for all he has done for me the last five years. Coach Grann was willing to do anything to help my teammates and I in all aspects of life, not just baseball,” Hair said. “He taught me lessons I’ll keep with me forever, and made me a stronger baseball player mentally and physically. It’s without a doubt in my mind Coach has been one of the most influential people in my life, and I’ll share memories with him that I’m never going to forget. Thank you, Coach.”

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