PHS Squad Gets Eliminated in Last Dance Baseball But Frost Relished Being on Field with Teammates
LAST HURRAH: Brian Frost takes a cut last week as he competed for the PC Tigers, the Princeton High entry in the Last Dance World Series statewide New Jersey high school baseball tournament that was organized to give seniors the chance to play with their teammates one last time. Recently graduated Frost and the PC squad went 0-3 in pool play in the Lawrenceville Regional (Group 7) of the South Region to get eliminated from the competition. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Brian Frost and his fellow seniors on the Princeton High baseball team were primed to go out with a bang this spring.
“The six or seven seniors that we have were all really looking forward to it,” said infielder Frost, referring to the 2020 campaign.
But weeks into preseason, schools were closed to in-person learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic and weeks later, the whole spring sports season was formally canceled.
“It really stunk for us; we were looking forward to getting out there, we had a week or two of practice before everything shut down,” recalled Frost.
“We were all still hoping there would be a season. We were hoping to do some captain’s practices or something like that.”
While the PHS squad was unable to get together on the diamond, the players worked at home and shared their progress virtually.
“We kept in touch because all of the guys know each other through playing with others and stuff like that,” said Frost.
“At the end of the day, we all love doing this. We were doing workouts and sending videos to the coaches and the captains just to keep our bodies moving a little bit.”
So when the Last Dance World Series statewide New Jersey high school baseball tournament was organized for this July in order to give seniors an opportunity to play with their teammates one last time, the PHS squad was excited to take part.
“Hearing about this, made it all better,” said Frost of the event that drew 222 teams with pool play split between the North and South regions. “Just getting out here and playing for three days was great.”
While the PHS entry in the competition, which was called the “PC Tigers,” ended up going 0-3 in pool play in the Lawrenceville Regional (Group 7) of the South Region to get eliminated, Frost wasn’t disappointed by the team’s showing.
“Two weeks before this, we started getting out there and practicing as a team,” said Frost.
“We weren’t trying to make a statement or anything. We just wanted to be out here one last time with everybody.”
In their final game of the tournament, the Tigers trailed the East Windsor Rams (Hightstown High) 1-0 heading into the fifth inning at the Trenton Babe Ruth field at Bunting Avenue last Thursday before the game got away from them on the way to a 10-0 defeat.
“We were hoping to pull this one out but the bats haven’t been moving as well and we haven’t been scoring,” said Frost.
“We were pretty solid in the field so the future is looking bright for the team. It was good to get some action over the three days, that is all we were looking for.”
Although PHS head coach Dom Capuano was hoping to see his team come through with some wins in the competition, he realized that the Tigers were bound to be a little rusty.
“Up until the fourth inning it was a good game,” said Capuano, whose team fell 10-0 to Lawrence Road (Notre Dame High) and 5-1 to Cardinals Baseball (Lawrence High) in its other two games of the event.
“All of our games were 1-0 games up until the fourth. It is a learning experience. Sometimes that killer instinct in a 1-0 game isn’t always there. There is nothing to be upset about with this whole week. It is just little things and when you don’t practice, they aren’t going to be there.”
In addition to giving his seniors a sendoff, Capuano got his young players on the field, playing a bunch of sophomores throughout the event.
“It was getting all of the seniors in while also getting the young guys some time,” said Capuano.
“We didn’t get to see them this year so you have to put them in these situations and see what they have got.”
In Capuano’s view, getting to see all of his players in action was the main purpose of the Last Dance event.
“Everybody was happy, everybody was just good to be out there,” added Capuano.
“That is part of it too. You go into this with the mentality that we are going to be together and see some things and get the seniors reps.”
Capuano was happiest to see his recently graduated seniors, who included Jason Ramirez, Judd Petrone, Gautam Chawla, Connor Parrish, and Aidan Regan in addition to Frost, take advantage of their chance to play together one last time.
“For all of them to lose their senior season and not be able to play and then come out here, it was good,” said Capuano.
“Aidan and Jason pitched out of their minds. It was wow, what could have been if we had a season. Other guys were hitting well. Brian Frost made a nice play at third today and he pitched. Judd did well in center. All of the seniors really did well. At least we got to do this for them.”
Getting to coach that group for another week was special for Capuano.
“I am technically on vacation this whole week; I have been driving back from Seaside everyday an hour here and an hour back,” said Capuano.
“It was worth it tenfold, just to get out here and be on the field and hang out with the guys even if it is a different scenario than a normal game would be. It was good, I am glad we did it, I am happy.”
While Frost was happy to be back on the field with his teammates, the finale last Thursday was bittersweet.
“I woke up this morning and it finally hit me, today was going to be my last game,” said Frost, who is heading to Cornell this fall where he may play club sports.
“I have been fine throughout the whole thing that there was going to be no season. Waking up today, I wanted to play as many innings as possible and just stay on the field one last time.”