2017 Summit Extreme Black Diamonds summer baseball begins June 6; players still need host families | SummitDaily.com

2017 Summit Extreme Black Diamonds summer baseball begins June 6; players still need host families

New faces and new coaching staff mean a whole new baseball season for the Summit Extreme Black Diamonds.

Today at Frisco Peninsula Park — probably the prettiest views at any college baseball field in the nation — the local summer league gets underway when the Summit team hosts the GameDay Saints of Parker, the newest addition to the Mountain West Summer Collegiate Baseball League.

Now in their third season, the league and the Extreme Black Diamonds (we'll use Summit or SBD for short) are back for another six weeks of free, local, high-level play from the next batch of Major Leaguers. Play runs from now until July 10, when the inter-league championship tournament begins. All games are doubleheaders, with three games per week spread between Summit, Steamboat Springs, the Vail area, Carbondale, Grand Junction and even the Front Range.

"Everyone is looking good," first-year Summit manager and head coach Garrett Rieck said after his team's first practice in Frisco on June 4. "We have solid fielders, we got a few hacks in (and) even our pitchers were in the bullpen, but right now it's just a matter of seeing what we have on the team."

Rieck and his sole assistant coach, Nick Mahin, bring a combined 12 years of minor and major league experience to the Summit bench. Rieck is a Southern California native who played four years with Santa Ana College in his home state before spending three years in the Cleveland Indians minor-league system. At 24 years old, after a second shoulder surgery and seven years of high-level play, the left-handed pitcher retired and set his sights on coaching. Since then, he's been an assistant coach for JuCo programs in his native Los Angeles: Yuba College, Los Angeles Valley College and, most recently, College of the Canyons.

Mahin, who also played at Santa Ana College before drawing the attention of Division I Cal State Fullerton, spent nine years with the Chicago White Sox minor-league clubs. He's known for huge offensive production and won the Big Stick Award while at Santa Ana — a bona fide testament to his skills at the plate.

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Rieck and Mahin lead an eclectic team with players from two-year and four-year colleges in every corner of the nation: New York, Georgia, Mississippi and New Mexico, plus six players from Rieck's College of the Canyons club. As usual, SBD also boasts a handful of local players including graduating Summit High School seniors Brian Hessler and leftie Andrew Shaw, who led their team to a 15-5 record this past spring — the best in school 4A history.

"For a lot of these guys, they need reps," Rieck said of his goal for the summer league. "The biggest issue for college players is they don't have the consistency they need to move up to pros, and these are game-time reps, not practice reps. That's important."

Also important is the variety of playing experience the SBD program provides young players. Take someone like Shaw, who dominated the 4A pitching standings this past season but still needs work on speed, control and variety. That's where an experienced pitcher and coach like Rieck comes in, while assistant Mahin will help promising hitters like Hessler fine-tune their form and eye. The coaches and players will also host free community baseball clinics throughout the season, with times and dates to be announced later.

"This is also big for the mental side of the game," said Rieck, who splits coaching duties with time as professor of kinesiology and health science at College of the Canyons. "I've taught sports psychology before, and so I take pride in improving guys' mental approach to the game. We want to win, of course, but the number one priority is development — working on things that you might not work on during the season."

Or at least that's the goal for the first few weeks. Once the season-ending championship tournament begins on July 10, Rieck wants his boys to shoot for a league title.

"My personal goal for the team is to help these guys have a good time," Rieck said. "This is like a baseball vacation, so baseball comes first, but we want them to enjoy their summer. It gets them back to remembering what it's like when they were playing baseball as kids."

2017 Summit Extreme Black Diamonds schedule

All games are doubleheaders and being at noon, unless otherwise noted. If you can’t make the game, check out live Twitter updates at @SummitEBD and @SumCoSports.

Week 1

Tuesday, June 6 — Summit vs. GameDay Saints, Frisco at 11 a.m.

Thursday, June 8 — Summit at Eagle Valley Eagles, Gypsum

Saturday, June 10 — Summit vs. Carbondale Cowboys, Frisco

Week 2

Tuesday, June 13 — Summit vs. Rocky Mountain Oysters, Frisco

Thursday, June 15 — Summit at Steamboat Storm, Steamboat Springs

Saturday, June 17 — Summit vs. Rangley Roughnecks, Frisco

Week 3

Tuesday, June 20 — Summit at Vail Vipers, Edwards

Thursday, June 22 — Summit at GameDay Saints, Parker at 6 p.m.

Saturday, June 24 — Summit vs. Eagle Valley Eagles, Frisco

Week 4

Tuesday, June 27 — Summit at Carbondale Cowboys, Carbondale

Thursday, June 29 — Summit at Rocky Mountain Oysters, Grand Junction

Saturday, July 1 — Home Run Derby and All-Star Game, time and location TBD

Week 5

Tuesday, July 4 — Summit vs. Steamboat Storm, Frisco

Thursday, July 6 — Summit at Rangley Roughnecks, Rangely

Saturday, July 8 — Summit vs. Vail Vipers, Frisco

Week 6

July 10-15 — Double-elimination tournament, time and location TBD

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Host a ball player

It isn’t easy or cheap to pursue dreams of playing in the Majors, and summer baseball with the Mountain West Summer Collegiate Baseball League is no different. All players on the local Summit Extreme Black Diamonds team need a roof and bed for the six-week season, which means the league relies on local families to house most college-aged players.

Today — on the first day of the season — a few guys with the team are staying in hotel rooms until they can find a host family. The commitment is minimal: Hosts only need to provide a room, while players handle all food, transportation and other living expenses. Hosts can provide a room for three weeks (half the season) or six weeks. The best host candidates are parents to young, up-and-coming baseball players anxious to learn from the visiting collegiate players.

To find out more or volunteer to host, call Summit head coach Garrett Rieck at 661-373-2199 or local coordinator Angie at 970-389-3268.