Brevard County seniors ‘grateful’ for one last baseball game
Viera High's Christian Stubbendeck (right) tries to complete a double play during Tuesday night's Brevard Boys of Summer Senior Curtain Call game at the USSSA Space Coast Complex.
VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala
There were smiles everywhere.
There was plenty of laughter and witty banter, too.
Heck, there was even an impromptu game of “Duck, Duck, Goose” that broke out during one of the night’s three rain delays.
But most importantly, there was baseball. Glorious baseball.
That’s what the members of the Class of 2020 came to the USSSA Space Coast Complex for Tuesday night. They wanted the chance to take the field together one last time.
“It was a lot of fun, just hanging out here with the boys, everybody from different high schools all coming together and playing one last game of baseball,” Viera High senior Declan McDermott said after taking part in the Brevard Boys of Summer Senior Curtain Call.
“It was probably the best moment of my senior year for sure.”
McDermott was joined Tuesday night by Viera High teammates Tyler Madl; Zach Taylor; Bill Moser; Ethan Huffman; J.T. Smith; Christian Stubbendeck and Jake Moldrem.
The rest of the roster was made up of players from Astronaut (Max Simmons; Colton Gelinas and Jake Johnson); Bayside (Brett Mlagan and Andrew Perri); Brevard HEAT (Caleb Tuggle); Cocoa (Marquis Pryor); Eau Gallie (Paul Hull Jr.); Heritage (Jonovan Melton and Ronald Greene); MCC (Brett Anderson and Zach Beolet); Palm Bay (Bryce Turner); Rockledge (Kolton Morrill and Matthew Valdes); Satellite (Dylan Dieguez, Dustin Belknap, Alberto McCarthy and John Seltenright); Space Coast (Troy Pollard) and Titusville (Brady Garrett, Jason Woodward and Michael Wiirre).
The non-sanctioned game was organized by Damien McDermott (Declan’s father), who came up with the idea after the coronavirus pandemic forced the official cancelation of spring sports in May. USSSA donated the use of the facility.
Teams were picked randomly, giving the chance for teammates to face off against each other. And while there were two clear offensive standouts – Taylor had two hits, including a three-run double, and Gelinas hit a three-run homer – it really wasn’t about keeping score.
“It ended up being a great night,” Damien McDermott said. “I think everybody had a great time. I got all my pitchers in. Everyone got into the field. I didn’t see one unhappy kid in either dugout.
“We had a really good crowd. It was awesome. It went just as I had envisioned with the exception of the hour-and-a-half of rain delays. I had a lot of kids thank me for doing this. A lot of parents thanked me for putting this together.
“I’m so glad they came out and so many schools were represented. It was a great evening. Thanks again to USSSA for letting us play.”
One of those people thanking Damien McDermott was his son.
“I’m extremely grateful for this,” Declan said. “It (stinks) that our season got ended so short, but he really made it all up with this one game that we got to play tonight.”
While the scoreboard may not have really mattered, there were definitely a few bragging rights at stake.
For instance, it was hard not to notice the smiles between Huffman and Moser when the latter came up to bat against the former. Moser walked. A couple of innings later, the situation was reversed and … Huffman walked.
OK, so that one was a wash.
But there were plenty of other teammate vs. teammate encounters that will no doubt be talked about for years … or at least, high school reunions.
“There will probably be some banter back and forth between everybody that went against each other,” Madl said. “But it will all be in good fun.”
It was certainly a night for Declan McDermott to remember. He started the game at catcher and eventually saw time in the outfield, at shortstop and for one inning … on the pitching mound.
“I’ve been waiting for this for so long,” Declan said. “I kept asking (Viera High baseball) Coach (Bob) Doty if he could get me on the mound. I was expecting to get on this year, but we didn’t get to play.
“Now, I got to pitch.”
For Taylor, it was a chance to play while fully healthy, something he wasn’t able to do before the pandemic shut down his season. And while he looked at the game as more of a chance to have fun with his friends one last time, getting two hits and three RBIs made the night extra special.
“It was a good way to go out,” he said. “I was fortunate to play well. I have a lot of memories on the field, but it was definitely good to go out like this. My senior year got cut short. I didn’t have as many opportunities as I wanted to.
“I had a hurt ankle for all nine games of my senior year. I played through it, but I couldn’t play as well. I didn’t really get a chance to play well and show what I can do.”
While some players will be moving on to play in college, Tuesday night’s game may have been their last.
Taylor said he’s been accepted academically to Stetson University, but he’s planning to play travel ball and perhaps get a chance to play at a junior college.
“I’m still playing over the summer and looking for somewhere to go play,” Madl said.
Declan McDermott, whose last at-bat ended with him yelling, “That’s an RBI!” as he ran up the first base line after hitting a ground ball that drove in a run, won’t be looking to continue his career.
“I’m done,” he said. “This is it for me. I’m going to miss it, but … I’ve got bigger and better things to look forward to in life.”
Wherever they go on from here, Tuesday night will be a game they will always be able to look back on fondly.
After all, they were together again.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to just have fun,” Taylor said. “But the biggest thing is I just wanted one more game here and they were able to make that happen.
“I’m grateful for that.”