Carnegie Mellon cricket team members honor service of fallen police officers

Saturday’s cricket match began with a presentation of awards honoring the service of three fallen officers. (credit: Jessica Sochol/Photo Staff) Saturday’s cricket match began with a presentation of awards honoring the service of three fallen officers. (credit: Jessica Sochol/Photo Staff) Credit: Jessica Sochol/Photo Staff Credit: Jessica Sochol/Photo Staff

Carnegie Mellon’s cricket team hosted a benefit match last Saturday at noon for three Pittsburgh police officers who lost their lives last year.

The three officers, Eric G. Kelly, Stephen J. Mayhle, and Paul J. Sciullo II, lost their lives in April 2009 while answering a domestic call in the Stanton Heights neighborhood. It was the first on-duty death of Pittsburgh officers in 18 years.

All three of the officers loved baseball and had been interested in cricket due to the similarities between the two sports. With this in mind, the police department approached Carnegie Mellon’s cricket team to play the memorial match. The team members were deeply affected and determined to do something to help honor the sacrifices of those individuals. With the help of CIT Public Relations Director Chriss Swaney, who organized the ceremony, they put on an exhibition cricket match honoring the fallen officers.

“[The Pittsburgh police] keep our city safe,” said Sagar Shah, a junior electrical and computer engineering major and the president of the Cricket Club. “We feel really safe when we see a policeman standing in the corner, patrolling the area, and it is because of their efforts that the campus community is a much more safe and fun place to be.”

Shah has been impressed by the service of the officers, especially in comparison to college campuses in India, where many of the team’s members are originally from.

Last Saturday’s match began with a bagpipe gala by sponsored performer Patrick Regan, followed by a presentation of awards to both Pittsburgh deputy George Sugar and University Police officer Paul Helffrich to thank them for their service.

“We had never anticipated the amount of support,” said Sugar as he accepted his plaque. He spoke briefly on the police force’s dedication to community and family that remains unwavering despite the risks. “Every time they put on that badge and walk out that door, it may be the last time.”

As further tribute to the officers, eight of the cricket team members released eight doves symbolizing peace. Regan followed the release with a bagpipe rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

After this, the game began. The team split into two groups and played a modified version of a typical cricket match, without padding and with the standard leather ball replaced with a duct-taped tennis ball.

Cricket has similar mechanics to baseball, but with notable differences. Most of the action takes place on a strip of field called the pitch. There are two batsmen at opposite sides of the pitch, and the pitcher (known as the bowler) throws the ball toward one of the batsmen from the opposite side of the pitch. The bowler’s goal is to knock over the wickets, in this game represented by a stack of plastic crates, to get the batsman out. When the ball is hit, the fieldsmen — everyone else on the bowler’s team — try to catch the ball to knock over the opponent’s wickets, while the two batsmen switch sides, called a run, and score the batting team points.

At the match’s conclusion, Police Chief Nathan E. Harper arrived to accept three plaques officially honoring the fallen officers. “It’s been a struggling year,” Harper said. “At every [police] event, we have to deal with challenges. It’s been a humbling experience when you see groups pull together.”

After the exhibition, the Carnegie Mellon team departed to Wooster College, where they competed in a four-day tournament. The tournament consisted of three competing teams from colleges and universities. The Carnegie Mellon team returned victorious, winning all of their matches.