There’s a new brand of baseball being played in Penn Valley, and it’s unifying young ball players from all over Nevada County.
Little League International has introduced what is being called Intermediate 50-70 Baseball for players ages 11-13. The 50-70 refers to the distance in feet from the pitcher’s mound to home plate and the distances between bases, respectively.
The intent of the unorthodox division is to provide a transition league for players moving from the Majors, which has the mound 45 feet from home plate and bases separated by 60 feet, to the Junior division where the infield dimensions mirror that of professional baseball, 60 feet, 6 inches from mound to home and bases separated by 90 feet.
This is the first time Nevada County has fielded a team, building the D-11 Dirtbags with players from the Bear River Little League, Penn Valley Little League and Nevada City Little League.
“This league is for the 13-year-old that is still developing and the rockstar 12-year-old,” said Scott Hopper, co-coach of the Dirtbags.
Players on the Dirtbags, compete on the 50-70 team as a secondary squad to their traditional Little League teams.
“The 50-70 team is a secondary team,” Hopper said. “The kids that are 11 and 12 are also on their Majors teams and the 13-year-olds play on junior teams.”
Hopper said that he keeps in close contact with his player’s other coaches in order not to go over pitch counts for the week.
“We have been limiting pitch counts to 20 so they are available for their primary teams,” Hopper said. “It works out because we’re trying to develop everybody as a pitcher. Just give everybody a shot.”
The Dirtbags are the only team from Little League District 11, and play teams from Folsom, Coloma, El Dorado, Roseville, Davis and Sacramento.
Hopper, who coaches along side Jim Nolen, said the team is 1-1 this season and the kids enjoy the style of play.
“They all love it,” he said. “It’s full baseball rules.”
The 50-70 league plays by junior league rules, with runners allowed to leadoff and steal bases before the pitcher releases the ball.
The new division was implemented in 2010 as a two-year pilot program, and has gained popularity over the past three years. The 50-70 league now has a World Series that will have 10 teams from around the world competing for the league’s first title. The inaugural Intermediate 50-70 Baseball World Series will be played July 30 to Aug. 5 in Livermore.
The Dirtbags play on Sunday’s and call the junior field at Western Gateway park in Penn Valley home. There next game is against El Dorado Hills April 7.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.