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Northwoods League play paused in Traverse City after positive COVID-19 tests

The Detroit News

Less than a week into the delayed baseball season, Traverse City’s three Northwoods League teams are hitting the pause button due to positive COVID-19 tests.

The Traverse City Pit Spitters announced on Sunday that “out of an abundance of caution” its season — along with the newly created Great Lakes Resorters and Northern Michigan Dune Bears — will be put on hold for at least five days after multiple players contracted coronavirus.

Traverse City Pit Spitters

“We have had some positive COVID-19 tests with players on the teams,” Pit Spitters general manager Mickey Graham said in a statement, “and in consultation with the Grand Traverse County Health Department we have determined that pausing the season for additional testing and a reassessment of the schedule is the best course of action at this time.

“We knew that this was going to be a challenging environment to play baseball in and safety has been our driving force. That is why we test the players and coaches, screen multiple times each day and that is why we kept the teams in the bubble, eliminated fan interaction and keep them from the community at large.”

The Pit Spitters, Resorters and Dune Bears compete in the North Division of the Michigan pod, with all three collegiate summer teams playing at Turtle Creek Stadium.

The Traverse City squads kicked off play on Wednesday — the Pit Spitters and Resorters have each played three games and the Dune Bears two — and were competing in front of reduced capacity crowds of 500 fans per game.

The three teams were set to play 57 total games, but the positive tests have “forced us to regroup,” Graham said. The Pit Spitters are aiming to restart play on Friday and plan to announce a revised schedule “in the coming days.”

“There are not a lot of leagues playing right now, and that’s for good reason, it’s an incredibly uncertain operational environment,” Pit Spitters CEO Joe Chamberlin said in a statement. “We feel bringing baseball back for our fans and our community is important and that is why we took this challenge on.  Seeing the excitement on opening day in light of how tough the last four months have been for everyone was incredibly rewarding.

“We are confident that we can navigate through this and restart, with the safety of players, fans and our staff as our primary decision-making criteria.”