Canceled: Positive COVID cases end baseball in region

Members of the Moscow Blue Devils wear masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus before a double header against the Spokane Cannons on June 23 at Bear Field in Moscow. American Legion baseball teams in northern or north central Idaho saw their seasons end Sunday because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Palouse Coyotes, an independent team in Pullman, are unaffected by the decision in Idaho.

After positive COVID-19 tests on baseball teams in northern or north central Idaho, the American Legion season is over for the Moscow Blue Devils.

The chairman of Idaho American Legion baseball, Abe Abrahamson, said Sunday night the positive cases in the region resulted in the cancellation of summer baseball, although Area C (eastern Idaho) can still play.

“We’ve had a couple kids on the teams that have come back positive and the decision was made to cease all the play in northern Idaho because of the spike that’s going on up there,” Abrahamson said in a phone interview. “Things happen, so it was kind of in our plan in the beginning that if it did start to come back, we were just going to have to shut it down.”

Abrahamson said he could not say how many players tested positive or what teams they were on.

But Moscow coach Stan Mattoon said his team has zero positive cases.

“We stuck to our protocols and we were very vigilant in those protocols,” Mattoon said. “We went out of our way to make sure we were being safe.”

Other teams in the region include Coeur d’Alene, Sandpoint, Orofino, Camas Prairie, Northern Lakes (Rathdrum) and Silver Valley (Osburn).

“This was a difficult decision to make and was not taken lightly,” said Ken Oler, director of Area A, in a release. “... Unfortunately, since June when Stage 3 of the Governor’s plan for reopening went into effect, the number of confirmed Coronavirus cases in Idaho has more than quadrupled, many of which have been reported in individuals under 18 years of age.”

The Blue Devils end their season with an 18-4 record. They had 10 games left on their schedule, plus the state tournament.

Mattoon said he feels for his players.

“We did everything in our power to make sure we could stay on the field as long as we could,” Mattoon said. “This is a bummer because they were a talented group. They were just starting to feel what they could accomplish as a team.”

Mattoon’s squad had implemented several coronavirus protocols in practice and games. Some of those included temperature checks before practice, spacing of gear 6 feet apart at practices and players not in the game sitting in chairs outside of the dugout during games. Coaches and officials also wore masks, and players did when they could.

Mattoon said Sunday night he has not heard what teams had players test positive.

“I don’t want to speculate, but obviously if we would have had a case we would have informed the proper people (and opposing teams) the minute we knew something,” he said.

Mattoon said he’s proud of what his squad accomplished in a short period of time.

“They are wonderful young men,” he said. “I was glad to have them for the time that we did.”

In Idaho, there are 10,902 reported cases of the coronavirus, with 397 confirmed and probable cases Sunday, and 102 confirmed deaths, according to the state’s website at 4 p.m. Pacific on Sunday. In Nez Perce County, there have been 96 confirmed positive tests of COVID-19, with 19 deaths, the third-most in the state. In Latah County, there are 30 confirmed positive tests.

In the United States, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website has reported 3,236,130 confirmed cases, including 62,918 new cases, with a total of 134,572 deaths, including 906 new deaths (these numbers typically lag a day behind). According to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine website, the number of cases in the U.S. climbed to 3,304, 142, with a total of 135,176 deaths, as of 8:45 p.m. Pacific on Sunday.

Stephan Wiebe can be reached at, by phone at 208-883-4624 and on Twitter at @StephanSports.

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