A few things may be a little different when Cambridge American Legion Post 84 baseball team hosts the 30th annual Don Coss Invitational Tournament this weekend, but after 30 years, the Don Coss Invitational is almost as much of a tradition as Fourth of July fireworks.
“I don’t know about that,” joked Ron Antill when he was asked about the tradition of the baseball tournament. “It is something though.”
Antill started the tournament in 1992 as an alternative to going on the road to play tournaments.
“I sat down about my third year coaching the team and I asked Don Coss (the team’s business manager and organizer of the Cambridge American Legion team) why we don’t have a tournament in Cambridge,” Antill explained. “He said if we can get it together, we can have it. He wanted to know what we were going to call it, and I said, why not call it the Don Coss Invitational.”
And the tradition of the Don Coss Invitational baseball tournament on July 4th weekend was born.
Incidentally, Don Coss would be 100-years old this year. He was born in 1922 and organized the Legion team in 1952.
This year, long-time stalwarts Marietta and St. Clairsville chose not to play the annual tournament. The vacancies opened the door for Meigs County Post 128 and Zanesville Post 29 to join the field this year.
They will be joined by Parkersburg Post 15 and Findlay Post 3 teams who return again this year as well as the host Cambridge Post 84 team. Because Meigs County is coming from a significant distance, the tournament schedule will change a little bit this year with Cambridge playing round-robin games on the first two days of the tournament instead of taking the second day off.
“We have always scheduled Findlay for three consecutive days with the other teams close enough to drive in daily,” Antill explained. “But since Meigs County will probably be staying over, I switched the schedule a little bit to make it easier on their travel costs as well.”
While a few teams have changed and the schedule changes, the tournament will be as competitive as ever.
“The Don Coss will be tough,” Antill said. “Last year we were pathetic in pool play. We lost three of the first four games, ended up in fifth place and had to win three games on the fourth day to win the championship. I don’t think we have the pitching to do that this year.”
Cambridge will open the tournament against Parkersburg at 3:30 on Friday and play Zanesville under the lights on Friday at 8:30 p.m. Zanesville and Parkersburg will play the middle game slated for 6 p.m.
"We get started Friday and naturally come right up against Parkersburg, who cleaned our clocks twice down there earlier in the season," Antill offered. "They have an outstanding team, and will be tough."
"Then Friday night we have Zanesville, who seems to be playing much better lately," Antill continued. "So we will need to play some solid baseball this weekend, if we want to be playing on Monday for the championship."
Against Zanesville, Post 84 will probably throw a new player Roman Gallitz. According to Antill, Gallitz will miss the rest of the tournament so he will pitch him on the first night when he is available.
On Saturday, Meigs County will play Zanesville in 1 p.m. game with Cambridge and Meigs County facing off at 3:30 p.m.
“I don’t know much about Meigs County, but I do know they split with Beverly Lowell, and Beverly Lowell has only lost three games this season,” Antill said.
Zanesville will play Findlay at 6 p.m. with Cambridge and Findlay facing off at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday.
“Findlay is a class organization that has been coming to our tournament for a number of years,” Antill said. “They are always competitive.”
On Sunday, Meigs County plays Findlay at 1 p.m., and Parkersburg at 3:30 with Findlay and Parkersburg facing off for the 6 p.m. night cap.
After the round robin is complete, the teams will be seeded one through five based on their records. Tie breakers start with head-to-head results and then fewest runs allowed before a coin toss is implemented.
On Monday, the tournament goes into single elimination bracket play with the fourth and fifth seeded teams facing off at 10 a.m. The second and third seeds play at 12:30. At 3 p.m., the winner of the first game will play the top seed with the championship game set for 5:30 p.m.
Daily admission into Don Coss Stadium is $5 for adults and $2 for students and 65-older. There is a full concession stand that will serve hot sandwiches, hot dogs, nachos, candy, chips, water, Gatorade, pop, and more.
Grandstand seating is available. There is also room on a hillside up the first base line for lawn chairs and canopies.
This article originally appeared on The Daily Jeffersonian: 30th annual Don Coss Invitational gets started Friday