Registration, orientation moved to different site this year

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FARMINGTON — Baseball players and coaches from around the country began arriving here today to compete in the 54th annual Connie Mack World Series.

The 17 teams making up the field will compete in the nine-day tournament in venues across Farmington, including Ricketts Park and the Farmington Sports Complex.

Pool play takes place Friday and Saturday. Bracket play starts on Monday, with the finals set for Aug. 11.

The schedule of the tournament was moved up one day this year, according to Carol May, chairwoman of the CMWS Committee.

The teams typically have arrived on a Thursday in the past with the opening ceremonies and side activities starting on a Friday.

This year, those events, including the fungo skills competition, home run derby and the opening ceremonies, have been moved to Thursday.

"We got a lot of complaints about playing on Sunday (last year), especially the finals," May said. "There are some people that don't go to baseball games on Sunday."

This year's tournament also ushers in a new attraction. Major League Baseball and USA Baseball are presenting an event called Play Ball in which juveniles ages 5 to 12 receive instructional support on throwing, catching and running from players in the tournament and USA Baseball clinicians.

Participation in the event, set for 2 p.m. Thursday, already is maxed out. But May said those who arrive for registration at 1:15 p.m. could possibly take part, depending on the number of registered young people who don't show up.

Another new element this year is the site where the teams register for the tournament upon arriving here. Historically, that has taken place at the Farmington Civic Center. But that facility is under renovation this year, so teams were directed to the Piñon Hills Community Church this year.

Originally, the CMWS Committee had planned to hold registration and orientation at Farmington High School, but construction work there led to the event being held at the church, according to May.  

"Piñon Hills church has been fabulous to us," May said.

The first team to register around 10:33 a.m. today was the Farmington Fuel, the winner of this year's Connie Mack City Tournament. The Fuel won its first city tournament by defeating Flat Bill 9-2 on July 22.

Cade Acrey of the Fuel said the team has an advantage by skipping the pool play portion of the tournament because of its status as host team. He said the atmosphere and collective love for baseball expressed by the community is what makes the tournament fun and enjoyable.

After Farmington police officers escorted the Fuel to the church, patrol vehicles returned to Ricketts Park to escort the second local team, the 4-C Club Sox, who arrived around 11:33 a.m. The Club Sox won the Mountain West regional title to earn their sport in the tournament.

This is the first time the Connie Mack World Series has featured two teams from Farmington in the tournament.

Alex Kuhn of the Club Sox said this year's tournament is different since his squad isn't the host team. That means the Club Sox will have to participate in the pool play portion and earn their way into the bracket portion of the tournament.

This will be Kuhn's first Connie Mack appearance, and he said he was excited to play in front of the large crowds the tournament attracts.

"If we get into the bracket and get to play (the Fuel), it'll be a little crazy," Kuhn said.

The Nashville Knights arrived just before noon at the church. The team showed up in Farmington Tuesday night, surprising some of the tournament organizers, May said.

Josh South of the Knights said he was eager to play against some of the best players in the country.

"I hear the atmosphere is great," South said. "The people that run it are amazing, and the town embraces it."

He, too, said he was feeling the pressure of pool play.

"It's nerve wracking just knowing we could play three games and could be done possibly," South said.

South believes the Knights have a good chance of making it out of pool play into the bracket.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

More: Connie Mack World Series event schedule

Connie Mack World Series team capsules

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