ROME — The Rome Raiders and Jefferson Blue Devils will open their 2020 baseball season with a doubleheader of seven-inning exhibition games on Sunday beginning at noon.
The Rome Raiders play in the Land O’ Lakes and the Jefferson Blue Devils compete in the Southeast Section of the Home Talent League, both are wood-bat, amateur baseball leagues in Wisconsin.
The Land O’ Lakes League was postponed due to the safer-at-home order put forth by Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, which was scheduled to expire May 26 before the Wisconsin Supreme Court rescinded its legitimacy. The Home Talent League already has postponed its official opening day to July 4.
Jim Wenzel, who is the reigning manager of the year in the Land O’ Lakes, said the 2020 season will be played with expanded dugouts for teams to space their players out. As for fans, he said there will be opportunities for fans to space themselves out and use concessions if they choose to.
“Our fans may choose to attend, choose to sit where they want and choose to purchase concessions (if they want to),” Wenzel said. “Players will stay home if they are sick, but that’s not any different than any other year.”
The Land O’ Lakes season has been reduced to 10 league games before the playoffs start. The top four teams in the Land O’ Lakes will play playoffs on August 22 and 23.
Jefferson cannot play home games at Fischer Field until the School District of Jefferson school year ends. Regardless, the Blue Devils are hoping to get their pitchers innings to prepare for an eventual Home Talent season, according to manager Ryan Wagner.
Elsewhere around the state, the Wisconsin Baseball Association initially postponed its starting date for its subdivisions — Chippewa River Baseball League, St. Croix Valley Baseball League, Dairyland League, etc. — until June 7. Since then, the Wisconsin Baseball Association hasn’t postponed start dates, but the St. Croix Valley Baseball League elected to push back its start date to July 1.
The Fort Atkinson Generals, which plays in the Home Talent League with Jefferson, are not beginning their season until a June 27 exhibition game against Poynette, which plays in the Eastern Section of Home Talent League.
As for Night League action, Home Talent has canceled its official slate, but teams are permitted the liberty of scheduling out-of-league exhibition games.
Wenzel said the Raiders are coordinating with three different leagues to put together a schedule to take the place of their lost Night League slate.