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Portage crosstown baseball game raising money for tornado victims

PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) — Two Portage high school baseball teams are taking the diamond in a crosstown rivalry doubleheader.

During the games, a fundraiser called “Pitch in for Portage” was on for those impacted by tornadoes that swept through the city on May 7.

There was a good crowd as fans and families took in the Portage Central versus Portage Northern game. While the score of the much-anticipated rivalry game was important, what was happening off the field was even bigger.

“You’re talking about years and years of tradition, successful teams, good baseball. The kids all know each other so it makes the rivalry that much more sweet,” said Andy Iasci, varsity head baseball coach at Portage Central.

A fundraiser is on at the Portage Northern and Portage Central baseball crosstown classic after tornadoes ripped through the town two weeks ago. (May 20, 2024)
A fundraiser is on at the Portage Northern and Portage Central baseball crosstown classic after tornadoes ripped through the town two weeks ago. (May 20, 2024)
A fundraiser is on at the Portage Northern and Portage Central baseball crosstown classic after tornadoes ripped through the town two weeks ago. (May 20, 2024)
A fundraiser is on at the Portage Northern and Portage Central baseball crosstown classic after tornadoes ripped through the town two weeks ago. (May 20, 2024)

The teams renew their rivalry just less than two weeks after a tornado ripped through parts of town.

Preliminary assessment: Portage tornado destroyed 60 buildings

“Just driving through Portage and seeing the devastation, some of the homes that were affected, the families that were affected, it was heartbreaking,” said Adam Cardona, Portage Northern head varsity baseball coach.

Now, the rivalry is being used to help those impacted.

“It’s a day where our community can kind of come together and just have a great day of baseball and remember that we’re one community,” said Iasci.

Cash and online donations collected for the “Pitch in for Portage” fundraiser will go to the Kalamazoo Community Urgent Relief Fund and the Portage Community Center to assist with storm recovery.

“Our booster clubs are the ones that started it, they contacted the coaches, and we were all about it,” said Iasci.

While no players or coaches on either team were directly impacted by the tornado, they may know someone who was. Coaches say Monday’s games come with an emphasis on community.

“I’ve been saying Portage Strong. It’s not Portage Northern vs Portage Central when it comes to something like this, there’s bigger things than baseball sometimes but just to be able to use this platform to help everybody out, it means a lot,” said Cardona.

The Portage Central booster president said they are considering collecting funds for other causes during this rivalry game in the future.

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