I don't want to short change Front Royal and the "Bing" out of their top 10 list so with all the exciting action happening at the HIGH SCHOOL level I might push it out to 15. We started the night out by catching the warm-ups and 1st inning of the BIG GAME in Luray. The home town Bulldogs were hosting Lancaster for the right to go to Radford and compete in the Final Four.
Rebecca got plenty of shots of the team and the great crowd getting ready and some of LHS Ace Richard Galindez pitching the first inning. Bill Meade was there to cover the game for the Page News and Courier and the town folks will get to read about it the next day instead of having to wait a while!
Galindez pitched the first inning like he knew I was in a hurry. It took the senior about three minutes to face Joseph Betts (Strike Out), Adam Benson (Strike Out) and then get Luke Saunders to send a fly ball to the fastest athlete I have seen play high school ball in a while- Johnny VanWyck. VanWyck didn't have to track this one down but Johnny Lightning would get to use the burners in the bottom of the first.
Lucas Dickson worked Lancaster starter Jonathan Somers for a lead off walk and VanWyck came to the plate. The junior dropped a drag bunt down the first base line trying to move Lucas to second but the defense didn't know what hit them or should I say blew by them. Runners on first and second with no outs looked promising but it was getting close to have to leave time.
Somers retired Jeremy Leake but Billy Foley loaded the bases after drawing a base on balls. From the car windshield we saw Ryan Carroll launch a ball toward right field........
Now to the top #15 reasons that yesterday was a great day AROUND THE VALLEY....
#15.- It was great to see the crowd that turned out for the Luray Bulldogs game. A bonus was how many fans were there at 5:00 p.m. when we arrived.
#14.- Alleghany(24-1)- (Covington) won their Class AA quarter-final match up over Hidden Valley 5-4 and will play again Friday (1p.m.) in Pulaski.
#13.- Getting to spend another night inside the "Bing". Each park inside the Valley Baseball League has it's own personality and the Bing is simply a stadium vs. a park. The town of Front Royal did a wonderful job (so did the contractors) on the "face job" that took place a couple of years back. If you have any doubts about the setting being worth the trip....It is a must see.
#12.-Kip Ritenour- The Warren Sentinel Sports Editor- Linda Keen sent me an e-mail letting me know Kip would be at the game and he took the time to snap a picture of Donna Settle and myself by the bigger version of the poster we hung on the wall. Kip and I talked a bit earlier in the day and then again at the park. There should be a story in his paper today about the promotion and I look forward to reading it.
Being a writer/reporter I wanted to get to know a little more about Kip as well for the blog. He is in his 8Th year with the Front Royal based newspaper and I have a great deal of respect for all Sports Editors that run a one person department. I asked Kip what his favorite memory of the eight years in Warren County was....
"It would be last year when the stadium (Bing) re-opened," Ritenour said. "We were showing off the stadium and there was a huge crowd there. I don't even remember who won the game that day."
Kip and his photographer were great and I hope the article gets Donna and her team of hard workers even more notice/publicity. Thanks Kip...
#11. Dennis Grundman (NVD camera man)- Getting to visit with Dennis has always been fun. Every article I wrote for the NVD during my 2 years that included "art work"- newspaper slang for having a picture with the story- made the reading of the paper the next day even more fun.
Dennis was there with writer Tim Tassa covering the game for the NVD and I told Dennis the same thing I always told him- Him having a picture next to my story added 10 IQ points to my work. Dennis was always (and was last night) quick to mention that I needed all the IQ points I could get...Always great to see Dennis and to see my daughter sitting atop the first base dugout next to him was way cool too!
#10. Chip Krable- ESPN 1240 & Generals Web Broadcaster- This made the second time in four nights that Chip and I ended up in the same park but sadly for me it won't happen again the remainder of the cycle. I was able to try and track down high school updates from around our part of the state and Chip was able to pass them on to his listeners. This was neat because one of the games we were following was the Waynesboro Little Giants playing down in Abington.
#9. Bob and J.B Brotherton- Coaching staff of the Cards- This would of been higher on the list but Bob wasn't around after the game when I found his son J.B. after the game. The three of us had some great conversations before and after games last year and everybody should get to talk baseball with Bob/J.B for 10 minutes. I hope to do a sit down with father and son during one of their trips down to Luray once my part of the tour is complete and share some of it with all of the readers..Dad is old school baseball!
#8. -A Call from Adam Critzer- Adam called to check and see what time Rebecca and I would be
down in Waynesboro tomorrow and I was able to get a scoring update from Jim's son. We are stopping back by Kate Collins on the way down to Covington later today to try and help out some. The call brought great news- the Waynesboro Little Giants (18-6) defeated Abingdon by a final score of 6-2. Critzer and company will face Powhatan (23-3-1) Friday morning at 10:00 a.m down in Pulaski.
Sitting in Jim's office on Sunday he was saying that if Joe Lucas had his good stuff against Abingdon that he liked his teams chances. If you go to www.newsleader.com and read Mr.Al
Saunders column you will find out Lucas tossed a complete game 4-hitter against the Falcons!
#7.- Talking with Mr. & Mrs. Neal (Parker's parents)... It is funny how when you are new in a town or on a job you will always remember when someone is kind to you. Mr.Neal (or as I like to call him-one of the best lawyers in all of Strasburg) talked me through my first experience at the ball park in Strasburg. He took the time to answer all of the questions I had and did so in a very classy way.
The summer season Parker came down to New Market to play for the Rebels and both of the parents were always pleasant to visit with and we shared in the remarkable journey the Rams took in capturing their state championship last season. There was a bonus to the short visit- Mr.Neal had the news that the Strasburg-Essex prep game had been called with a 1-1 score in the third inning. The team would be staying overnight and they would resume play tomorrow @ 7:00 p.m.
#6. The beauty of modern technology-During the action at the Bing there was a fair amount of talking back and forth as fans searched for high school action updates from around the state. I think most die hard baseball fans follow the game at a number of levels. The chain reaction of the call from Adam with the score that led to me giving it to Chip led to Chip giving it to his listeners which led to Generals Sign Guy Mike hearing it which led to him posting it on the site which meant I found the message when I got home. The flow of the scores bounced back and forth thru a number of channels all night and it was neat to see that so many people were interested in following the kids!
#5. Donna Settle and her staff- Not only is the Bing a great stadium but it is also a very clean stadium and filled with very helpful people. From the press box (tops in the league) down to the concession stand you will be greeted by a smiling face as dressed in Cards gear. Rebecca took the time to capture all of the staff in pictures and posted them earlier so please take a look at all the wonderful people that give so much of themselves to make your visit more enjoyable.
#4.Catching up with Mr. Austin Gisriel- When I last saw Austin we both had been invited to speak at a dinner hosted by the Grandstand Managers Club in New Market (Friday 5/2). Austin gave a great speech and we had a chance to talk before dinner. Austin was in Front Royal to put the final touches on a story he is writing about the Valley Baseball League. The story is due to the editor today and Austin was visiting his third of three parks.
The stops included Winchester, New Market and Front Royal with the story slated to run in Virginia Living shortly after the 4th of July. I invited him to sit down with me after the story comes out and talk through his work with all of the readers. The other task is we need to find out where someone in each town can find a copy of the magazine. I enjoy listening/talking to Austin and doing the same with his wife and daughter back at Johnny Appleseed. The story should be great and I can't wait to read it.
#3. Visiting with Linda Keen- Before last night I had only spoken with Linda in brief spurts at owner meeting where she is the league secetary but last night presented the opportunity to talk back and forth for close to a hour if you add up the time. It was enlightning for me to get to hear Linda talk about her 12 years at the helm of the Front Royal club and share thoughts about the league and the promotion. I was also able to meet a family that is very close to her and learned a story that I hope to get to share later this summer. A few minutes were spent with Mr.Keen as well- we are both lifers in the newspaper delivery business and it was fun to talk shop with him.
Linda made a few things clearer for me and I feel wiser for the time.
#2.- Kind words from Greg Brill- Greg and I have spent many an evening covering high school contests over the past two years. Greg was/is writing for the Star and I was writing for the NVD and we always struck up conversations before and after. Most of the times it included his wife Coach Brill (Warren County volleyball) but I am not going to talk about her today because she wouldn't get in the pictures of Greg calling the game on the Web.
Greg is a big part of the Cardinals organization and he made a point before and after the game that he read the blog as often as he could and that he loved the work! I told him he made the 18 hours I was out there yesterday(between work and my "hobby") worth while. Earlier in the day two of the Luray Bulldog Dad's had done the same- Thanks to Mr.Painter and Mr.Carroll as well for making me smile. Some days you just don't know but today/yesterday wasn't one of them!
Drum role PLEASE....
#1 reason yesterday was great......
The final phone call of the night came from Bulldog skipper Steve Griffith. I could tell by the tone of his first words he was calling with GREAT NEWS- We are heading to Radford after a 17-4 win over Lancaster! How 'bout them Dogs!