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Aug. 11, 2022

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Ridgefield Raptors won’t play in 2020 as West Coast League cancels its summer season

Safety guidelines and travel restrictions cited as reasons for calling off baseball season

By , Columbian Sports Editor
3 Photos
Members of the Ridgefield Raptors wave to the crowd after the final game of the season at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex.
Members of the Ridgefield Raptors wave to the crowd after the final game of the season at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex. (Roberto Rodriguez/for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The Ridgefield Raptors won’t be playing baseball this summer.

The West Coast League’s board of directors voted Friday to cancel its summer collegiate baseball league, the league announced, citing pandemic-related safety guidelines and travel restrictions across Washington and Oregon.

Concurrently, league members Ridgefield, Cowlitz, Port Angeles, Walla Walla and Yakima Valley are canceling their respective seasons, the league said.

“Yes, we’re heartbroken about 2020,” WCC commissioner Rob Neyer said in a press release. “But we’re already looking toward 2021, with Nanaimo (British Columbia) joining the league and playing at historic Serauxmen Stadium. And with more exciting news on the way, we’re confident that next summer will be our best yet.”

Raptors General Manager Gus Farah said the team reached the decision to cancel their season with heavy hearts.

“This is not a surprise,” Farah said. “We held out as long as we could, as long as it was logical.”

The Raptors had hoped to play an abbreviated season starting in early July. But Farah said Clark County’s inability to move out of Phase One of the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan in May made any hope of playing baseball by then impossible.

An outbreak at Firestone Pacific Foods, a food processing plant in Vancouver, resulted in more than 100 new cases late last month. Just this week, Pacific Crest Building Supply in Ridgefield reported five positive cases.

Clark County was approved to advance to Phase Two on Friday, but that’s too late for the Raptors. A baseball game with fans in attendance would require Clark County to be in Phase Four.

“We have to do what’s fair for our players and host families,” Farah said. “At some point holding on would come across as greedy.”

Alex McGarry, a redshirt junior at Oregon State, had planned to play for the Raptors this summer. The Columbia River High graduate, who earned first-team all-Pac-12 honors last season, was hitting .289 with three home runs when Oregon State’s season was suspended after 14 games.

He would have been part of a deep talent pool of collegiate players looking to play this summer.

“I was trying to stay optimistic but it isn’t a big surprise,” McGarry said when reached by phone Friday.

McGarry has remained focused on staying in shape and hopes for a big senior season in 2021. He said the biggest change during the lost 2020 season has been his appreciation of baseball.

“It has really reinforced my love for the game,” McGarry said. “You can take it for granted when you’re playing 100 games over a spring and summer.”

Riley Sinclair, a senior pitcher at Camas High, had also planned to play for the Raptors this summer.

Sinclair said this layoff is the longest he has gone without baseball since he started playing at age 5. He’s staying sharp by working out with other local players, including teammate Tyler Forner, former Camas teammate Grant Heiser and minor leaguers Seaver and Brady Whalen.

Now, Sinclair said his focus is on 2021, when he will join Seattle University.

“Right now I’m trying to get better in any little way,” Sinclair said on Friday. “I’m definitely going to be in the best shape of my life. At Seattle, I want to be one of the guys who contributes from Day One.”

Farah said the loss of the 2020 season won’t put the Raptors in any financial danger. The team employs mostly seasonal workers and has low overhead costs during the offseason.

“We’re going to survive this,” Farah said. “We’re prepared, but it’s not easy. What we’re missing most is the community. We were really looking forward to offering the community some relief during these uncertain times.”

The league said that WCL teams the Portland Pickles and Wenatchee AppleSox still hope to play an independent schedule this summer.

The league also set June 4 as the opening day of the 2021 season.

The Ridgefield Raptors played their first season in the West Coast League in 2019, drawing solid community support to games played at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex.

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