Wednesday, May 23, 2012

RMHS old-timers have great time at Alumni Baseball Game

Ben Gay and Absorbine Jr. might have been in short supply around town after Rocky Mount’s Alumni Baseball Game at Gryphon Stadium last Saturday afternoon.

Forty-two former Rocky Mount baseball players, ranging in age from 18 to 63 (the youngest -- RMHS graduating seniors Damian Smith and Collin Watson; the oldest, Class of ‘67 alums and 63-year-olds Eddie Joe Lynch and Doug Roberson), gathered to play the last Rocky Mount High-related game ever on a field that was laid out in 1920. RMHS players had been running on the diamond for nearly 70 years.

The stadium will serve as the home of Rocky Mount American Legion Post 58’s baseball teams (Senior and Junior) for at least one year.

“We were really happy with the turnout, especially among the Blackbird-era alumni,” said Wes Bradshaw, one of the game’s organizers. “It looked like the word got around well.”

Teams divided into a Blue and a Gold squad battled it out for seven innings with the Blue team coming out on top 6-4. The Blue team rapped out eight hits, while the Gold squad tallied seven.

Former RMHS head coaches served as the coaches for each squad -- Pat Smith and Shelton Chesson for the Blue, Danny Weaver for the Gold.

Starting pitchers were Jim Leggett (Blue - Class of ‘08) and Paul Jenkins (Gold - Class of ‘01).

The Blue team grabbed an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first thanks to an RBI double by Jason Womble (‘04) and a run-scoring single by Dillon Cockrell (‘09).

The Blue squad came up with two more runs in the second. Jeremy Ward (‘96) capped the inning with a single - one of his two on the day.

The Gold team finally got some offense in gear in the third when Jenkins powered a double to left center to score David Ange (‘97) who reached via a walk. It had finally taken that goose egg off the scoreboard -- now down 4-1.

Trailing 5-1 in the top of the sixth, the Gold team began to find its stroke. It used three hits to muster a rally to close the gap to 5-4. Ange’s RBI double, a Collin Watson sac fly for an RBI and a score on an infield single by Eric Johnson (‘98) got the Gold team back in it.

But an RBI single by Carter Varnell (‘10) in the bottom of the inning gave the Blue team a little insurance with a two-run margin.

“I was personally impressed with how competitive the game ended up being,” said Bradshaw. “The ‘old’ guys really went hard and held their own. The weather turned out to be great and I think the fans really enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere.

“The players had a great time. The first question from all of them was ‘when is the next game?’“

Proceeds from the game went to support Rocky Mount’s current baseball squad.

(reprinted from the Nashville Graphic)

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