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Bay State Games

Bay State Games move to showcase format to fit into shifting summer baseball landscape

Southeast player Dylan Umano tries to make contact during the Bay State Games baseball showcase at Monan Park in a game against Coastal.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Dylan Umano is old school. The 6-foot-2-inch rising senior at Weymouth High School chose against batting gloves and sported a pair of crimson and gold stirrups as he stood in the batter’s box in the third inning of his final Bay State Games showcase matchup on Thursday morning at BC High’s Monan Park in Dorchester.

As he and the college scouts who observed the Games from the stands watched a fourth pitch go by without coming close to the strike zone, he tossed his bat toward the dugout and trotted to first base to earn the second of three walks in his Southeast region’s 10-6 win over the Coastal region team. In the 40th year of the Bay State Games, the baseball tournament has pivoted to a round robin showcase event to draw colleges to local Massachusetts players like Umano and his teammates. He just wanted to have a chance to show his skills in multiple aspects of the game.

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“[Having college coaches there is] good motivation,” he said. “It makes you lock in a little more, makes you focus a little more and makes you play a lot better.”

Umano impressed with his plate vision as well as some clean fielding at shortstop. He also pitched two-thirds of an inning, racking up two strikeouts.

Once one of the premier summer tournaments that brought in elite Massachusetts baseball players from six regions of the state, who ranged in age from rising freshmen to rising seniors, the Games have had to compete with travel and AAU tournaments to bring in both top talent and high-level scouts.

“Ten years ago I’d have a hundred kids show up for this team,” said Ryan McCarthy , the head coach of the Northeast region team. “There’s so many AAU tournaments, there’s so many AAU teams now, that these kids make a commitment to a program and it’s every weekend … I think that’s why the numbers have gone down a little bit.”

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McCarthy has seen the Games evolve throughout the years — he began coaching for the Northeast region in 2002 while he was a coach at Triton High School in Newbury, and understands that while organizers see the Games as an opportunity to have regional teams compete against each other, it’s really about playing in front of college coaches.

“I think it’s more about the kids and the showcase,” he said. “Every kid wants to win no matter where they are but they also know it’s about themselves being seen and that’s the purpose of it being down here [in Boston.]”

McCarthy’s team went undefeated in the tournament (5-0) and took home the gold medal with a 13-10 win over West in their final game of the showcase Thursday.

From a scouting point of view, the Games are really just another event to add to the growing calendar of showcases. Andrew Gummow , an assistant coach at Salem State University, sat right behind home plate for Thursday’s matchup. He acknowledged that due to the shift to digital and AAU-based competition, tournaments like the Games might lose significance.

“Well even summer baseball now is all about getting seen,” he said. “[Athletes] know what they need to improve on, not in baseball necessarily, but just for college coaches to see. So I think it’s not as much the Bay State Games changing as much as it is the kids are changing.”

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In the end, the event is one that players and coaches mark on their calendar and look forward to regardless of the format because of the accessibility and relatively low cost of $150 for the tryout and games combined.

“The Bay State Games does it right,” McCarthy said. “It’s cost-friendly, it’s all of the different things you’d be looking for … the first two days here there were college coaches all over the place. It’s just a great venue and it gives a great opportunity to be seen.”