From the sidelines }By Marty Gordon
Baseball is back this spring, and we also have it for the summer in the version of the Appalachian League’s wooden bat league and the Carolina League’s Salem Red Sox. It will be so nice to finally see a crowd in the stands and to hear people yell at umpire’s calls.
We have to make note of two recent fun connections to the sport at Auburn High School and Radford University.
Carter Keith has been a key for Auburn High School’s baseball team for the past four years, and this past week, he did something that will be hard to accomplish ever again. Keith literally played every position on the field.
His typical position is catcher and he has played every position in the outfield. But in a game against Mt.-Empire-District-foe George Wythe, he started on the mound in the first, caught in the second, played all three outfield positions in the third, went to first base in the fourth, and then rotated to every other infield position in the fifth inning.
Nine positions in one game.
Rain delays are unavoidable when it comes to baseball, and sometimes many of the teams find unusual ways to stay busy during that “stop time.” No more was this true than during a regular season game between Radford University and High Point. The contest is now featured on a Fan Buzz online.
Players from both teams stepped out in the rain wearing catcher’s gear while sitting on the shoulders of a fellow player. What ensued was a “baseball jousting event.”
Radford University’s Mark Peterson and Jake Taylor took the victory over High Point’s Kyle Mahoney and Corey Swickle.
Also, USA Baseball has announced the schedule for the 2021 Collegiate National Team. The collegiate team will not face an international opponent this summer; instead, this year’s team will feature 48 players on two 24-man rosters, the Stars and Stripes, who will play 11 intrasquad games in July.
The Stars and Stripes will play 10 of its 11 games in the cities of the Appalachian League, which begins its first season as a summer collegiate league as a part of the Prospect Development Pipeline. The Appalachian League also serves as a national team pathway and identification event for the Collegiate National Team and other future USA Baseball national teams.
Team USA will kick-off its 11-game tour on Friday, July 2, in Danville, Va., followed by a game in Burlington, N.C., on Saturday, July 3. USA Baseball will host the Fourth of July game at its National Training Complex in Cary, N.C., before hitting the road again to finish its season.
Greeneville, Tenn., will host the U.S. on Tuesday, July 6, followed by Johnson City, Tenn.; Bristol, Va.; Elizabethton, Tenn.; and Kingsport, Tenn., on four consecutive nights.
The 11-game tour will conclude with a trio of games in Pulaski; Princeton, W.Va.; and Bluefield, W.Va., from July 13-15, respectively.
Go out and enjoy a ball game with a hot dog and some peanuts. Here’s to summer’s favorite pastime.