When American Legion baseball teams begin their season next month, they’ll likely be forced to comply with a major rule change.

The re-entry rule, a staple of high school and Legion baseball in Maine, was eliminated at the national level.

“We’re trying to get clarification,” Zone 2 commissioner Dave Rollins said. “Our state commissioner is going to a national meeting, and we’re hoping that we can affect that.”

Zone 2 includes Amato’s of Rockland, Augusta, Franklin County, Gardiner, Lincoln County, Madison, Messalonskee, South China Subway and Waterville. Doing away with the re-entry rule will surely force coaches to be more creative with playing time. Gardiner coach Dan Burdin said that when the new rule was announced at the state meeting, “everyone kind of gasped.”

“You’ve got to have a whole new game plan,” Burdin said.

There is no re-entry in Zone tournament or state tournament games, so many of the Zone 2 coaches have at least a little experience dealing with the rule. Still, it’s quite an adjustment.

“It’s going to change how you sub, really,” said South China Subway coach Mark St. Amand. “You may start a kid you don’t normally start, and (put in) your normal starter after a couple innings.”

South China Subway draws from Erskine, Maine Central Institute and Mt. View. Erskine has a strong high school team, but St. Amand is also hoping to bring in some players from the other two schools.

“Even to get one or two would be nice,” St. Amand said. “There’s been years in the past, if we didn’t have MCI kids, we wouldn’t have a team.”

One coach who wasn’t really bothered by the re-entry rule change is Madison’s Peter Kirby. In perhaps a related note, it looks like Madison won’t have to worry about getting enough kids to play this summer.

“I’ve been around to most of the (drawing) teams,” Kirby said. “We’ve got over 35 kids already signed up.”

Legion teams can carry only 18 players, but those who don’t make the Madison team have a new option this season: Skowhegan has added a Junior Legion team, which will be coached by Rod Stevens. Legion is for players ages 15 to 19, while Junior Legion is for players ages 13 to 17.

“We’re working together,” Kirby said. “It’s like it’s one program. We want to develop the kids.”

The Legion regular season will begin June 18, two days after the high school state championship games. Everyone in Zone 2 will play 16 games, with the season ending July 16. The Zone 2 tournament will be the weekend of July 21-22. Just like last year, four of the nine teams will qualify, and it will be a double-elimination format.

“When I had my coaches meeting, it was unanimous that they didn’t want to make any changes,” Rollins said.

Rollins said the site for the Zone tournament is still to be determined. The state tournament will be Aug. 1-5 at The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach, and the regional tournament will be Aug. 9-13 at the same site.

The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach is also the site of the Junior Legion regional tournament. That will be Aug. 17-19, with the state tournament Aug. 10-12 at the University of Southern Maine.

Junior Legion commissioner Al Livingston said the league has added seven new teams and now has 23 in the state. Most of those teams are in the south. Fairfield, Skowhegan and Bethel are the northern-most teams. Augusta was approved for a new Junior Legion team but was unable to get things started in time for this year.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243
[email protected]

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