The Heritage baseball team recently proved that it’s a championship squad, even if shelter-in-place regulations prevent its members from showing it on the diamond.
The Patriots secured the virtual Boras Classic state title, riding fan votes all the way to a thrilling 621-535 win over La Mirada last week.
“It was pretty interesting," said Heritage senior Keith Jones. "We had some fun with it."
The usual in-person tournament held in early April was scrapped amid COVID-19 concerns, but event organizers took it to the virtual world, hosting pretend games and calling on Twitter and Instagram users to determine the outcome.
The Patriot fan base turned out en masse during the online extravaganza, voting the squad to wins over Granite Bay, Franklin, St. Francis, Mountain View and La Miranda over several days.
Along the way, real-life baseball elements slid into the game, with Heritage head coach Kevin Brannan creating virtual lineup cards; the squads mythologizing the games’ details over group chats, and event organizers and teams tossing in graphics, recorded interviews and national anthem performances over social media.
“I think everyone just got really into it,” said Amanda Samaan, spokesperson for the Boras Family Foundation, which ordinarily hosts annual tournaments in California and Arizona. “You saw lots of conversations back and forth on Twitter and Instagram about different (virtual) plays in the game: who was throwing, how many strikes they got, and literally just making things up. It was so much fun.”
The Boras Foundation thought up the virtual event after its in-person Arizona event in March was halted for rain, followed by COVID-19 school closures.
The virtual Southern California classic was held soon after, and then Northern California squads were clamoring for the virtual opportunity.
Event organizers said they were expecting hundreds of votes for each virtual matchup, but thousands ended up pouring in for each game.
“It was something to look forward to, something to keep their minds off what is really going on,” Samaan said.
Brannan said it didn’t take him long to get hooked once the virtual games began.
“The next thing you know we are texting back and forth with coaches and the kids talking about lineups and different situations,” he said. “We turned it into a pretty good time.”
Aside from fun and bragging rights, the Patriots’ efforts will eventually garner real-life rewards.
Samaan said event organizers had already ordered championship trophies and T-shirts before the tournament was canceled, and the goods will soon be headed to Heritage.
“You are still winning, whether it’s virtual or in real life, right?” Samaan said.
To relive some of the action, visit @TheBorasClassic, @HHSPats_BB or @HeritagePats on Twitter.
For more information on the Boras Family Foundation, visit https://borasclassic.com.