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Jesuit's Easter baseball tournament also aims to help homeless

Special correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 02:36 AM

Jesuit hosts its fourth annual Easter Baseball Tournament April 10-13, with teams from as far away as New York and California participating.

Jesuit (16-1) will host the week-long, eight-team event at Hyer Family Park. Three in-state schools, including St. Petersburg Catholic and Bishop McLaughlin, will take part.

Bishop McLaughlin will play in the opener against Canisius (Buffalo, N.Y.) at 10 a.m. Jesuit hosts Regis (New York) at 7 p.m.

"Hosting this tournament is a great chance for our team to come together along with parents and supporters for that tournament atmosphere," Tigers coach Richie Warren said. "And being at home, sleeping in their own beds, they get the best of both, playing in a tournament and enjoying a little of spring break with their friends."

The Tigers have won six straight since losing 3-0 to Miami Gulliver Prep on March 17. Senior Lance McCullers leads the team with an 8-0 record and a 0.00 ERA.

The tournament has set its sights not just on quality baseball, but also providing service to the Tampa community.

In an effort dubbed "Baseball and Blue Jeans: The Bullpen Project," the tournament's opening day will be dedicated to collecting a pair of new or lightly used pair of jeans for homeless men and women living in the Tampa Bay area.

A release from Jesuit said the charity drive is geared to providing a "simple, yet necessary, commodity" to "many adults in the community who struggle to find decent clothing" needed for daily work as well as the winter months.

The goal is to collect 1,000 pairs of jeans and donations from fans, which will be distributed through Jesuit alum and former football standout Andre Kirwan's "No Strings Attached" ministry. Warren said the Jesuit student body has added a lot of support with the donations of a few hundred pairs of jeans.

"The bullpen is all about relief, and we're hoping the 'Bullpen Project' can do just that for our community," Warren said. "There are a lot of people in dire need of help and we are hoping this can be our part of helping those less fortunate."

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