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Baseball season has come around at last and I have been just plain giddy going around taking in some local action this week and last.
The weather has been more than adequate for baseball as I’m usually wearing layers still at this time, but Mother Nature has allowed me to wear shorts for the entire month of March. Simply beautiful.
All three Adams County teams were in action for the first annual Coaches vs. Cancer Classic with a three-game fiesta at Bellmont to truly give the baseball season a legitimate kick-off.
If you weren’t there at the Teepee last Saturday afternoon, you missed quite a day. Between pink uniforms, donation buckets, 46 runs in three games, and a hit batsman called for a third strike, there was enough going on to keep even the most casual fan interested.
All three teams are stellar this season, each with their own strengths, but in all contests, there must be a loser. The Braves won two hard-fought games and proved, at least for a year, that they are the best team in Adams County.
The Stars and Jets are no slouchers, either, though.
The Braves were tied with the Jets, 7-7 late in the game before opening up a three-run inning to close out the game. Later, the Starfires gave Bellmont a run for their money in a more pitcher-friendly matchup that ended with the Braves earning a four-run win, 5-1.
The best game of the day, however, was in the middle.
Adams Central and South Adams put on a scoring display in the fourth inning of that game with both teams posting sixes on the board. The Stars and Jets were battling back and forth all game but when it came down to it, AC just ran out of outs.
The Starfires came up in the bottom of the seventh and Blake Fox came through for coach Buckingham in the clutch knocking home the game-winning run and a 12-11 victory over AC.
Even the Braves fans were cheering in the stands because of the excitement.
The Jets went 0-2 on the day losing both of the games, and yet, they scored the most runs (18). The Braves posted 15 runs and South Adams nabbed 13. What really did AC was untimely hits and runs allowed. When they needed a stop, they just didn’t get it.
The funny thing is, in a trio of games that featured that many runs, the pitchers really did not do a bad job at all.
Granted, in the SA/AC game, there were seven beaned batters, but as far as strikeouts and overall performance, there really wasn’t a bad pitcher on the mound on Saturday.
Call me cynical for praising the pitching during games with so many runs, but I could not help but notice that high school baseball in this region has really picked up since I was involved as a player (or maybe I just wasn’t that good...).
There seems to be something in the water at Bellmont with the way those guys have been hitting the ball. Their biggest problem so far this year has been the refereeing at Snider!
Seriously though, the hitters did their jobs well against both AC and SA. I have to give props to them for handling their business despite AC and SA’s stars shining for them as well.
AC’s Dalton Combs was on the hill for most of the Bellmont game and he did an exceptional job of locating the ball and changing the speeds up on the hitters. He even used his bat later in the game to knot the game up at 7-7 with a monster three-run jack over the right field wall.
In the SA game, Dustin Wanner pitched a complete game for the Stars giving up only four earned runs and holding a hungry Bellmont lineup to a handful of hits. On that same note, I thought it was extremely wise on SA coach Buckingham’s part to throw speedster Nick Batt against the Jets and not Bellmont.
Part of that logic was confidence, I feel. Wanner has been a starting horse for SA for a lot longer than Batt, who came in relief mostly last year. Batt looked a little bit more comfortable as the game went on against AC as he fanned 10 batters for the second time in two games. Wanner kept his cool for most of the game against Bellmont and gave the Stars a better chance to compete.
Another great reason to throw Batt at AC and not Bellmont was that the Jets have a younger looking batting lineup this season and they just did not look ready to hit Batt’s fastball yet. Bellmont’s veteran lineup was looking for the heater all day and had trouble with Wanner’s speed changes.
Props to all three teams for putting up stellar performances for the fans during C vs. C.