The second annual College Showcase Camp at USM drew in high school players from all over the Northeast region (courtesy photo)

GORHAM — Rain throughout the day pushed the second annual College Showcase Camp indoors to Costello Sports Complex at the University of Southern Maine on Thursday night.

The clinic, presented by Firecracker Baseball, drew in more than 20 college coaches to evaluate 55 high school players from all over the Northeast region. The showcase is followed by the second annual All-American Lighthouse Class tournament that starts Friday and concludes with championship games on Monday.

Contests will be played at popular, local baseball fields such as The Ballpark in Old Orchard, the showcase’s original location, and Goodall Park in Sanford.

Mark Cooke, the owner and president of Firecracker Baseball, said the decision to move the clinic inside was an easy one, and he knew something had to be done with coaches traveling to Maine from all around the country.

“You just want to provide what you had advertised,” Cooke said. “A lot of these people are coming from several different areas, so you really want to make sure this event takes place and is well organized.”

Players were put through drills that tested all facets of the game, such as fielding, hitting and pitching, and they were also evaluated on other intangibles like bat speed and hitting exit velocity. Testing players on their swing speed is something you can replicate indoors, Cooke said, but the rubber surface and lighting made it a little difficult for college coaches to fairly assess some of the players, particularly when it came to fielding.

“(Playing indoors) obviously tough to mimic what you’re going to get on a baseball field,” Cooke said. “Especially with the defensive drills … There were some tough hops and kids don’t play on this surface normally.”

Liam Nash of Thornton Academy takes a swing during batting practice at Costello Sports Complex at USM (courtesy photo)

Despite some funky bounces and a few lighting issues, there were some advantages from having the clinic inside, said Billy Young, the director of public relations for the firecrackers. With players confined to an inside area, coaches can see a lot more compared to outside on a baseball field, where players and coaches can be dispersed all around the field. The clinic also included a livestream for coaches who couldn’t attend to be able to watch, which could’ve been troublesome had showcase been conducted outside.

“I actually think overall for a showcase (having it indoors) is better,” Young  said. “Lighting wise, some of the throws are a little tough because of the backdrop, but I really think (being inside) is beneficial.”

Regardless of the weather, Cooke was pleased with the way the clinic ran. His primary focus with Firecracker Baseball is to give high schoolers a chance to show their skills to college coaches, and having this in Maine was a great opportunity to give local players a chance to be seen.

“To have 23 coaches here, on a rainy night in late June, before the summer really takes off it’s so important for these players” Cooke said.  “It benefits the local kids, because (if this doesn’t happen) they’d have to travel down to Boston or pay a lot of money to go somewhere else.”

Among the local players were Tyler Lambert of Massabesic, and Nicholas Griffin and Liam Nash of Thornton Academy. Nash, who caught and played the outfield for the Golden Trojans this season, would have rather played outside, but was happy to display his talents in front of college evaluators regardless of where he was.

“(Getting the exposure), it’s very important,” said Nash. “I always want to showcase my skills to the best of my ability.”