Adult baseball off to smashing start|[7/06/05]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Bazinsky Field turned into a field of dreams for both the old and not-so-old ball players Tuesday night.

The Vicksburg Adult Baseball League got off to a rousing start with a pair of games.

Twenty one-year-old Daniel Edwards, who suited up for the Vicksburg Stealth, and 40-something Cardinals player/coach Randy Stewart epitomized what the league is all about.

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“When they told us that it didn’t rain us out and we were still going to play – that was the best thing I could’ve heard,” said Edwards, who is about three seasons removed from his last hard-ball action when he was at Vicksburg High.

“I’ve been in softball for about a year. I think softball is harder, except the hitting. A baseball is so much easier to throw.

“Our team is a bunch of old high school players. Mostly Vicksburg High, but we’ve got one from Rebul (Academy).”

Warming up in the bullpen in preparation for the evening’s second game was 18-year-old pitcher Chad Owen.

“See that ball move,” he said, enthusiastically to his catcher.

Owen’s pitching counterpart was the 40-something Stewart, who used to coach baseball at Rankin Academy and in Natchez.

“The hardest thing about this is getting back into shape. I mean, baseball shape. I’ve been out of it for so long.

“Joe Graves deserves a lot of credit for trying to build this up. He’s allowed a 20-man roster and that’s good, because we’re the one team that has some guys in their 40s. Right now we’ve got 16 (on the team) for sure,” Stewart said.

While the nightcap featured the old against the young, the league’s first game pitted Graves – the former St. Aloysius baseball coach who organized the league in his new job as Vicksburg’s parks and recreation director – and his Vicksburg Angels against the Port Gibson Stompers.

The Stompers, a semi-pro level team that used to be called the Tillman Stompers, came in with four games under its belt and had four Alcorn State University baseball players in its starting nine.

“The Stompers have been around since 1977,” manager Ronnie Mackey said. “We still travel, but it’s usually a long way. We were in Durant this past weekend and Starkville before that. We were 2-2.”

Make that 3-2 after Tuesday’s 6-2 win over the Angels.

Stompers’ third baseman Austin Fagan, just out of Loyd Star High School, hit a triple off the center field fence in his first at-bat, then blasted a solo home run off the left-field foul pole in his second appearance.

Fagan, who signed with Copiah-Lincoln but is now considering an offer to Belhaven, finished 2-for-2 with seven total bases.

The big hits came off Angels starter Jason Brown, a former St. Aloysius star who will pitch next season for Sam Temple at Hinds Community College. Catching Brown was Hinds’ regular catcher, John Rice Pettway, who played his high school ball at Warren Central.

After being touched for three runs in his first inning, Brown settled down and left after three innings, down 4-1.

“I thought our pitchers did fine,” Graves said. “Jason hadn’t pitched in two years until his tryout last week at Hinds. Then we had Ryan Hearn who used to pitch at Hinds finish up.

“Our problem was that we haven’t seen enough live pitching. Looking at a slow-pitch softball against a hard fastball, is two totally different things,” Graves said. “The only guy who hasn’t played slow-pitch this year for us is Greg Carroll.”

Hearn, who struck out three in a little over an inning of work until the game was called because of time, agreed.

“It was a little rough out there. I haven’t pitched in nearly 2 1/2 years,” said Hearn, who is now an engineering student at LSU and, like Brown, played for Graves at St. Aloysius.

“It took awhile to get the feel of the game back,” added Hearn who struck out in his first at bat and then grounded to short in his second. “But at least we got Coach Joe back to his old coaching duties.”

Port Gibson’s Corky Davis, who pitched a season at Southwest CC, was sharp, allowing just two runs off three hits.

One of the runs came off a squeeze bunt from Greg Curro in the fourth inning to make it 4-2.