Many miles traveled, even more ahead

This is it, folks. I’m leaving The Sanford Herald. It’s been fun working with and serving all of you. Thank you for the opportunity. It was incredible. Please don’t forget about ol’ Ryan!

Here is the final column that was published in the Sunday, Nov. 7 edition of The Sanford Herald.

The odometer of my 2008 Blue Chevy Cobalt currently reads 64,569 miles.

Subtract about 20,000 miles for trips to Greensboro, many trips home to Durham and several trips to Waxhaw (which is near Monroe in case you’re wondering) and that leaves 44,659 miles.

A lot of those miles were driven to give you readers the best local coverage possible from Lee County, Southern Lee, Grace Christian and Lee Christian athletics.

Some of those miles were spent going to Broadway Optimist, Northview Optimist and Tramway Athletic Park to cover several little league baseball and softball tournaments. A few miles were spent driving back and forth to the Sanford Municipal Golf Course to see three consecutive Brick Capital golf tournaments.

Many miles were spent driving to and from The Herald office to all of the home and away football games for the Lee County Yellow Jackets in 2008 under former coach Jody Stouffer, who helped over 20 Yellow Jacket football players earn scholarships at the next level, and in 2009 under coaching legend Burton Cates. Even in some tough losses last year under coach Cates, the Yellow Jackets earned the respect of many in the Tri-9 Conference. This year, the Yellow Jackets are on their way back to the 4-A playoffs for the first time since 2006 as the program seems to be headed in the right direction.

About 300 miles were spent driving to Raleigh twice, Rockingham, Lee County High School and Wilmington combined for the Yellow Jackets’ magical run to the 4-A East Regional final in the 2010 state baseball tournament. The Yellow Jackets came so close to getting back to the state championship for the first time since 2001 as they lost in a best-of-three series to Laney 2-1. The outpouring support of Yellow Jacket fans outnumbered the number of fans Laney had show up for the regional final, which took place at their own school. An entire community came out and supported Lee County head coach Charlie Spivey and his Yellow Jackets. That’s what high school sports are all about. One moment I’ll always remember from that series is when Lee County principal Greg Batten, decked out in a Yellow Jacket windbreaker, hugged Spivey for about three minutes following the loss in game three.

A lot of miles were added when I covered the 2008 Southern Lee soccer team’s heartbreaking loss to Triton in the third round of the 3-A East playoffs, which came down to penalty kicks after 110 minutes of play wasn’t enough to determine a winner. The match didn’t go the way Jason Burman and Southern Lee had hoped, but they showed a lot of heart and class despite the loss. In 2009, the Cavaliers lost in the third round again for their first and only loss of the season. This year, Burman has his boys in the playoffs again as they survived a 5-3 victory over Southern Nash in the opening round. Bring it home this year, boys.

The Southern Lee basketball team has established itself as a legitimate contender in each of the past three years. I’ve had the privilege of driving out and seeing players like Akeem Richmond, Chad Taylor, Julian Martin, Ace Chalmers and Josh Mellette tear it up on the hardwood and lead the Cavaliers to many victories. Head coach Gaston Collins is a true class act and works well with that team and is the best dressed coach in all of high school basketball. I’m honored to have met such a classy individual.

A lot of miles went beyond Lee County and extended into Harnett and Chatham Counties as well. In Chatham County, I spent some time covering Northwood High School’s football and basketball teams. In Harnett County, I drove to a few football games at Western Harnett and one at Harnett Central.

At Campbell University, I made the 28 mile trek to Buies Creek to witness the Camels’ first football game in 58 years. The Camels hosted Birmingham-Southern for their first game at Barker Lane Stadium and gave it everything they had and more in their 12-6 loss.

Thirty-five miles were put on my car in 2008 when the Northwood Chargers, coached by Russ Frazier, made it to the 2-A state championship in basketball. The Chargers put up quite a fight against Shelby in the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill in an atmosphere that I’ll never forget.

In 2009, I spent many miles driving back and forth to Lee Christian School covering Robert Sandidge, who led the nation in goals scored during his only season with the Falcons with 62 goals and 31 assists. His play made a significant impact as the Falcons advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCCSA 3-A state tournament for the first time in school history.

One car accident and five new tires later, I regret to inform you faithful readers that I will no longer be spending those countless miles covering the many sporting events in this region.

The rumors are true, Sarda is leaving The Herald.

While it’s unfortunate, this is the beginning of a new challenge for me. Some of you might be upset, some might be mad and some of you faithful Heralders might even be glad that I’m gone, but nonetheless, it’s been a pleasure serving all of you and bringing you the best local sports coverage that I could.

The other day, a very close friend of mine asked me what I would miss the most about working at The Herald. Without hesitation, I looked at her and told her that the biggest thing I’d miss would be the relationships I’ve made. Relationships with my co-workers, with coaches, school administration, officials, student-athletes and other members of the community, I’ve met some incredible people in this community and I will hold all of them in my heart forever. Some of these relationships have evolved into lifelong friendships, which is something I’ll always cherish.

And I’m going to miss them all.

To you die-hard Yellow Jacket fans, I respect your passion and your love for Lee County athletics. Even though a lot of you have attacked The Herald and have written numerous letters to the editor about our “biased coverage” this football season, it’s been an honor serving you. You can write all the letters you want and say what you want about our coverage, but there is something you need to know.

You’re right.

I have always been pro-Southern Lee.

I’ve also always been pro-Grace Christian, pro-Lee Christian and pro-Lee County. I’m darn proud of it, too.

Even though I’m supposed to remain objective when I’ve attended games, I’ve often found myself rooting for the Cavaliers when they’re succeeding on the soccer field, the basketball court or on the diamond. When head football coach Tom Paris coached the Cavaliers to their first victory since 2008 with a 51-48 win over Western Harnett earlier this season, I was thrilled for those kids, who had been through the pain of losing and the inconsistency of having to play for four head coaches in as many years.

I couldn’t help but root for the Crusaders when head coach Chris Pratt guided them all the way to a third place finish in the state in soccer during the 2009 season. I find myself cheering for the Crusaders on the basketball court, the baseball field, the cross-country course, wherever Grace Christian is playing. I want to see those kids and all of their coaches succeed.

Nobody wanted to see Eric Davidson and the Lee Christian Falcons succeed more than me when the Falcons reached the quarterfinals with Sandidge leading the way. On the hardwood, I had the opportunity of establishing a relationship with Jon Lineberry when he hit the game winning three-pointer in a game against county rival Grace Christian.

When the Yellow Jackets are in a tight situation on the football field, I find myself on the edge of my seat secretly wanting quarterback Carson Wilson to connect with wide receiver Dequon Swann with offensive lineman Victor Ingram (I told you I’d get your name in the paper) delivering a huge block that leads to a 55-yard touchdown reception late in the game to put the Yellow Jackets ahead. When coach Spivey and the baseball team were just two innings away from going to the state championship, I was on the edge of my seat wanting the Yellow Jackets to get there. I found myself in a state of shock and disbelief when they couldn’t pull out the win over Laney.

You can call it unprofessional if you want, but I look at it as me showing a true passion for what I do. I’ve always been pro-kids and pro-success. Anytime I can see a student-athlete successful on the court, the gridiron, the soccer field or wherever, it puts a smile on my face and it’s enjoyable to write about. Being able to report on the success of high school students in this community, no matter what uniform they were wearing, has been something I’ve always loved doing.

I’m sure new sports editor Jonathan Owens and my former sports editor Alex Podlogar would say the same thing. Seeing local kids succeed at the high school and college level makes our job entirely worth it, despite the long hours, the low pay and the holidays and nights it took to put the paper together.

So with that, it’s my time to go and find a new, exciting challenge in my life. I don’t know what that challenge is going to be just yet, but I do know that God’s got something big planned for my life and I’m excited to find out what it is.

To my Herald co-workers, I love you all and I’ll miss you dearly. You gave me a fun, friendly working environment and made going to the office enjoyable. Jonathan and Alex were two of the best bosses a man could possibly work for. I learned so much from them and they’ve helped me grow as a writer and as a reporter. R.V. Hight and Josh Smith helped give me words of encouragement when things got tough and were always there for me. Billy Liggett is a great editor and the rest of the newsroom staff is lucky to have him as a boss.

While my journey at The Sanford Herald has officially come to an end, I can honestly say that it’s been well worth every single mile.

God bless.

Football Opener: Lee County vs. Western Harnett (Friday, Aug. 20)

Lee County wins the toss and chooses to defer.
Western Harnett will receive.
There is no clock or scoreboard here at the stadium.

Caleb Chalmers runs from the Eagles 28 to the 46.

1st and 10 WH on own 46.
Lloyd Burrell runs for a 1st 10.

1st and 10 WH on Lee 38
Lloyd Burrell runs for a gain of a half yard and is tackled by Lee County’s Jalen Woods
Burrell runs for about 5. 3rd and 5 on Lee 33.
Caleb Chalmers runs for a 3-yard loss. Lee’s Cory Thomas with the tackle. 4th and 8.
Botched snap by Western QB J.T. Howington, pass incomplete to Paul Duggan. Lee takes over on downs.

Just got told that there is 8:20 remaining on the clock in the first half. Thanks, Mr. Official.

1st and 10 Lee on own 35
Cedric Gray runs for a pick up of 4. (2nd and 6)
Wilson passes to Russell Clark for a pick up of 1. (3rd and 5)
Wilson passes to Israel Williams for a pick up of 1. 4th and 3.
Lee County punts it away.

1st and 10 WH on own 48
Will Overton runs for about 3 2nd and 7
Overton carries for a loss of two. Lee’s Micah Lee on the tackle.
Chalmers runs for a loss of one. Lee’s Mitchell Coggins on tackle.
WH’s Kaylan Smith to punt

1st and 10 Lee County on own 20
Cedric Gray runs for a carry of about 2.
Gray runs for a pick up of 3. (3rd and 5)
Wilson pass incomplete to Dequan Swann (4th and 5)
Lee County punts to WH 42 yard line.

1st and 10 WH on own 42
Randy McNeill’s pass incomplete to Caleb Chalmers
Lloyd Burrell runs for a loss of 2 (3rd and 12)
McNeill’s pass complete to Chalmers
PENALTY (Holding on WH, Loss of 10) 3rd and long for the Eagles
McNeill’s pass incomplete to Paul Duggan
Kaylan Smith punts to Lee’s 48 yard line.

End of the 1st Quarter
Lee County 0
Western Harnett 0

1st and 10 Lee on own 48
Israel Williams carries for a gain PENALTY on Lee County (Holding. Loss of 10 yards)
1st and 15 on own 43
Gray runs for a pick up of 5.
PENALTY (False Start against Lee County)
Wilson’s pass complete to Gray for a gain of 3. 3rd and Long
Wilson’s pass complete to Swann for pickup of 7. 4th and 8.
Punt by Lee County

Duggan calls for the fair catch.

With 8:32 remaining in 2nd, Lee and WH are scoreless.

1st and 10 WH on own 24
McNeill fumbles the ball on the snap, Isaiah Williams recovers and runs it back for a Lee County touchdown.

Gray runs in the 2-point conversion.

8:15 to go in 2nd Quarter and Lee County is ahead 8-0 thanks to about an 11-yard fumble recovery by Isaiah Williams.

Lloyd Burrell fumbles and Isaiah Williams recovers again. Lee County takes over 1st and 10 on WH 27.

1st and 10 Lee on WH 20
Israel Williams carries for 3
Israel Williams carries for 6
Gray runs for 1st Down.

1st and 10 Lee on WH 18
Gray runs for a gain of 8.
Gray carries for pick up of 1.5
Gray runs for gain of 4.

1st and Gl Lee on WH 5
Gray runs it in for a 5-yard touchdown.
Lee County misses extra point.

14-0 Lee County with 1:46 in 2nd.

1st and 10 WH on own 18
McNeill’s pass incomplete to Jordan Deese
Chalmers runs for a gain of 1
McNeill’s pass incomplete to Stacy Slade
4th Down WH punts to own 49

End of half, Lee County leads 14-0.

Western kicks off to the Lee County 36 yard-line.

1st and 10 Lee on own 36
Israel Williams runs
Israel Williams runs for a huge gain.

Gray runs for a gain of five.
Wilson pass incomplete to T.J. Lett
Wilson sacked by Lloyd Burrell 3rd and long.

Wilson passes to Swann for a 55-yard TD Completion. PAT fails. 20-0 Lee County with 3:15 in the 3rd quarter.

1st and 10 WH on own 35
Overton runs for about 2.
Howington’s pass incomplete.
Howington’s pass incomplete to Slade.
4th and 8.

1st and 10 Lee on own 32
Isaiah Williams runs for pick up of about 10

1st and 10 Lee on own 44

Isaiah Williams runs for a 4-yard TD. PAT good. 27-0 Lee County with 9:18 in the 4th quarter.

Mr. Automatic

In a last chance comeback attempt by Cubatao, a’ 21-U Semipro team in Brazil, Cubatao fouls North Carolina All-Star Ryan Sarda.

Big mistake.

That’s why they call him Mr. Automatic, even though he drops the ball on the first attempt.

As usual, the face of the franchise sinks both free-throws to put the All-Stars up for good. At this point, the score didn’t matter. Judging by the commentary from Kaycee Murr and Haley Bryant, no one really know what the score was anyway. All that matters is that Star-Da finished the game with five points and two rebounds. He closed out the week in Brazil with the highest free throw percentage on the team at 100 percent.

Oh yes. You got it on video

Once again, Ryan Sarda did work down in Brazil. The face of the franchise scores a crucial 3-point play (although the bucket is off camera, you can tell by the crowd’s reaction that it goes in, as usual). Star-Da was apparently fined an undisclosed amount of money by the North Carolina All-Stars franchise for taunting the crowd after scoring the bucket, which drew heat from teammate Ronnie Kruger. In the video, Kruger can be heard yelling, “The game’s not over, Ryan.”

By the way, the All-Stars won the game 110-96.


Lee County vs. Laney Game Three Updates

Due to rules of the NCHSAA, all the fans were forced to clear the stadium after the conclusion of game two. They then had to re-pay to enter for Game Three. So, there’s that.

Lee County’s Trent Clark, who allowed just one hit in Game Two in relief of Dillon Frye, will start this decisive third game that determines which program will play in the NCHSAA 4-A state championship.

Clark will be pitching against Laney’s Mike Hilla, who has won three of the four postseason games for the Buccaneers.

Lineups being introduced. We’re about 4 or 5 minutes away from game time. Laney will be the home team for Game 3 and Lee County will be the road team.

Top 1st
Zach Bradford grounds out to short.
Julio Parades strikes out looking.
Alex Furl flies out to Raleigh Stoughton. Oh wait. No he doesn’t. Stoughton had a hole in his glove. No, he literally had a hole in his glove and the ball went through it. Furl’s on first on the fielding error. Stoughton makes the equipment change and has a new glove now.
Wilson strikes out swinging to end the inning.

End 1/2 inning:
0R, 0H, 1E, 1LOB

Bottom 1st:
Ryan LaGrange hits a single to shallow left. On a bad throw, LaGrange advances to second.
Luke Tendler flies out to Carson Wilson at second. One out, one on.
Dallas Perdue flies out to Julio Parades and throws to Alex Furl to keep LaGrange at second.
Brandon Manley hits a foul ball that’s caught by Tyler Castleberry for the third out of the inning.

End 1:
Laney: 0R, 0H, 1 E, 1 LOB

Top 2nd
Dillon Frye strikes out swinging.
Tyler Castleberry hits a lob to first but a diving catch is made by Kyle Valente for the second out.
Nick Durazo flies out.

End 1.5
0R, 0H, 0E, 0LOB

Bottom 2nd:
Jeremy Bland grounds out to Alex Furl. Furl’s throw to Oldham on time.
Corbin Bednarczyk hits an infield groundout to Wilson for the second out.
Kyle Valente single back to Clark. Throw is late. Valente safe at first.
Bradley James strikes out to end the inning.

End 2:
Laney: 0R, 1H, 0E, 1LOB

Top 3rd:
Patrick Oldham flies out to centerfield.
Garrett Verrilli grounds out to pitcher Mike Hilla. Two up, two down.
Zach Bradford grounds to LaGrange and is out at first.

Three up, three down for the Yellow Jackets.
End 2.5
0R, 0H, 0E, 0LOB

Bottom 3rd:
Raleigh Stoughton grounds up the middle. Furl makes a great throw to Oldham for the out.
Ryan LaGrange grounds out to Furl. Throw to Oldham. Two outs.
Luke Tendler hits a two-out double down the rightfield line.
Dallas Perdue grounds out to Furl, who makes the throw to Oldham at first.

End 3
Laney: 0R, 1H, 0E, 1LOB

Top 4th:
Julio Parades hits the first pitch to short. Throw not in time, Parades slides in safe at first.
Parades successfully steals second as Alex Furl faces an 0-2 count.
Alex Furl’s sacrifice grounder moves Parades over to third. Furl grounds out.
Carson Wilson’s SAC Fly to rightfield scores Parades from third.
Dillon Frye singles to shallow left field.
Tyler Castleberry is walked on four straight pitches, which moves Frye to second. Chris Thompson comes in to run for Castleberry.
Nick Durazo on a 1-1 count, Frye is picked off at second to end the inning.

End 3.5
Lee County: 1R, 2H, 0E, 1LOB
1-0 Yellow Jackets

Bottom 4th:
Brandon Manley flies out to Nick Durazo at left field.
Jeremy Bland hits a 1-out single to left. Ty Baucom in to run for Bland and successfully steals second.
Corbin Bednarczyk strikes out swinging. Clark has two strikeouts in the game.
Caleb Wells comes in to bat for Kyle Valente.
Caleb Wells reaches on a fielding error by Furl, who bobbled the pitch. Baucom advances to third, Wells is on first.
Bradley James strikes out. Clark has three strikeouts in the game.

End 4th: Laney threatens with runners on first and third, but nothing comes out of it.
0R, 1H, 1E, 2LOB
1-0, Lee County leads here in game three.

Top 5:
Nick Durazo flies out to left field for the first out.
Patrick Oldham flies out to the catcher for the second out.
Garrett Verrilli grounds out between first and second.

End 4.5
0R, 0H, 0E, 0LOB
1-0 Lee County over Laney

Bottom 5th:
Raleigh Stoughton doubles to rightfield.
Trent Clark is relieved after allowing the double. Sophomore Nick Durazo comes in for relief. Durazo started game one against Laney.
Ryan LaGrange grounds out to third. Frye makes the throw to Oldham and keeps Stoughton at second.
Luke Tendler singles up the middle to move Stoughton to third.
Dallas Perdue strikes out for Durazo’s first of the day. 2 Outs, Tindler steals second and Stoughton still at third.
Brandon Manley flies out to Parades for the third out of the game.

End 5:
Laney: 0R, 2H, 0E, 2LOB
Once again Laney threatens with runners on second and third, but the Yellow Jackets make smart plays defensively to keep the Buccaneers scoreless.

1-0 Lee County leads.

Top 6:
Zach Bradford hits a leadoff single to left. Alex Mercer comes in to run for Bradford.
Julio Parades grounds out, but moves Mercer to second.
Alex Furl grounds out but moves Mercer to third.
Carson Wilson grounds out for the final out of the inning.

End 6:
Lee County: 0R, 1H, 0E, 1LOB
Yellow Jackets lead Laney 1-0

Bottom 6:
Jeremy Bland is hit by a pitch and goes to first.
Corbin Bednarczyk hits an RBI single up the middle to score Bland from third.
Kyle Valente bunts and grounds out. Moves Bednarczyk to second.
Pete Wildeboer strikes out for the second out. Bednarczyk steals third.
Raleigh Stoughton draws a 2-out walk.
Wild pitch gets behind Tyler Castleberry, which scores Bednarczyk.
LaGrange intentionally walked.
Luke Tendler RBI single to right field scores Stoughton from second. (Laney takes 3-1 lead)
Dallas Perdue’s RBI single to right sends LaGrange home from second. (Laney builds 4-1 lead)
Nick Durazo is relieved. Carson Wilson is coming in to pitch.
Wilson’s Wild pitch scores Luke Tendler. (5-1 Laney)
Brandon Manley walked.
Jeremy Bland hits an RBI single (6-1 Laney)
Corbin Bednarczyk flies out for the final out of the inning.

Laney scores 6 runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Top 7:
Dillon Frye hits a single to center.
Tyler Castleberry flies out to right centerfield.
Nick Durazo reaches base on an error on Laney’s third baseman. (Frye at second, Durazo at 1st)
Patrick Oldham reaches on an error from SS Ryan LaGrange. Bases loaded.
Garrett Verrilli grounds into a double play after loading the bases.

Laney wins 6-1.

Lee County vs. Laney: East Regional Final Game Two Updates

10:40 a.m. Saturday morning

The Lee County Yellow Jackets are warming up in Laney. The Yellow Jackets will be the home team for game two, which means they will be batting in the bottom of the innings. Lee County head coach Charlie Spivey is starting ace Dillon Frye on the mound on just three days of rest. Frye last started in Wednesday’s 4-3 victory over Apex. He also hit the game winning home run to bring the Yellow Jackets this far in the postseason.

10:50 a.m.

The lineups are being introduced. Pitching for Laney is Kyle LeGates, who came in and relieved Dallas Perdue after the fifth inning during game one on Friday night.

Time to play ball. Lee County takes the field, Laney bats first.

Top of the first:
Ryan LaGrange leads off the inning with a groundout to Furl, who fields it and makes the throw to Patrick Oldham.                              
Luke Tendler reaches base on a fielding error from Patrick
Dillon Frye strikes out Dallas Perdue for the second out.                                                                                                                                                          
Dillon Frye strikes out Brandon Manley for the third out of the inning.

After a half an inning, Laney leaves one on base. Frye already with two strikeouts.

Bottom 1st: 

Kyle LeGates walks Lee County’s leadoff man Zach Bradford on four straight  pitches.                    

Julio Parades strikes out on his first at-bat.
Alex Furl flies out to shallow center field for the second out.
Bradford caught trying to steal second and is thrown out. Carson Wilson will bat to lead off the second inning for the Yellow Jackets.

End 1, Lee County 0, Laney 0.

Top 2:
Jeremy Bland grounds out to Furl, who throws to Oldham for the first out of the inning.
Dillon Frye strikes out Corbin Bednarczyk for the second out.
Frye strikes out pitcher Kyle LeGates for the third out.

End 1.5 Frye with four K’s. Still a 0-0 ballgame.
Laney 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.

Bottom 2
Carson Wilson flies out for the first out of the inning.
Dillon Frye is hit by the pitch and takes first base. Chris Thompson comes in to run for Frye.
Tyler Castleberry at bat. Conference at the mound with Laney coach Vern Barker and pitcher Kyle LeGates.
Castleberry grounds into a double play. Thompson out at 2nd and Castleberry out at first.

End 2:
Lee County 0 R, 0H, 0E
Laney 0, Lee County 0

Top 3:
Bradley James strikes out for Frye’s fifth of the game.
Raleigh Stoughton grounds out for the second out of the inning.
Ryan LaGrange single to left field for the first hit of the game.
Luke Tendler strikes out. Frye with six K’s in game.

Laney 0 R, 1 H, 0E, 1 LOB
End 2.5, 0-0

Bottom 3:
Nick Durazo leads off the third with a single up the middle for the first hit of the game for Lee County.
Patrick Oldham’s SAC bunt moves Durazo to second. Oldham out at first.
Garrett Verrilli’s RBI single scores Durazo from second. Verrilli on first.
Zach Bradford flies out to center field.
Julio Parades moves Verrilli to second with a single.
Furl grounds out to first for the third out.

End 3: Lee County: 1 R, 2H, 0E
Lee County leads Laney 1-0.

Top 4:
Dallas Perdue pops up down the first base line. Wilson had the ball but he and Bradford collide. Here comes Lee County AD Steve Womack to the rescue.
Bradford lives. Perdue is on first, the ball was fair.
Brandon Manley strikes out for Frye’s seventh.
Jeremy Bland strikes out. Frye’s eighth.
Corbin Bednarczyk strikes out. Three straight for Frye, 9K’s for the junior.

End 3.5, Still 1-0 Lee County.

Bottom 4:
Carson Wilson flies out.
Dillon Frye hit by pitch AGAIN and goes to first AGAIN. Chris Thompson back in to run AGAIN.
Tyler Castleberry singles up the middle, moves Thompson to third. On throw to third, Castleberry takes second. Alex Mercer in to run at second base for T.C.
LeGates is relieved by Caleb Wells. Lee County has runners on second and third with just one out.
Nick Durazo flies out but scores Chris Thompson for the second run of the game.
Neal O’Quinn batting for Patrick Oldham. O’Quinn grounds out.

End 4.
Lee: 1 R, 1H, 0E, 1 LOB

2-0 Lee County after four.

Top 5:
Caleb Wells, the new pitcher, leads off the fifth and grounds out.
Bradley James strikes out for the second time this game. Frye has 10 K’s.
Raleigh Stoughton grounds out to Furl, who makes the throw to Oldham at first.

Three up, three down after 4.5.

Bottom 5:
Garrett Verrilli flies out for the first out.
Zach Bradford flies out in the infield.
Julio Parades grounds out.

End 5: Lee County leads Laney 2-0.

Quick stats:
Dillon Frye allowed just one hit through five innings of work. He also finished with 10 strikeouts. He’s relieved by Trent Clark for the last two innings of the game.

Top 6:
Ryan LaGrange hits a single off Trent Clark to lead off the inning.
LaGrange moves to second on a Balk from Trent Clark.
Luke Tendler grounds out and moves LaGrange to third.
Dallas Perdue flies out. Durazo makes strong throw to plate to keep LaGrange at third.
Brandon Manley grounds out to Furl, who makes another good throw to Oldham for the third out.

After 5.5, it’s still 2-0 Lee County. LaGrange has the only two hits of the game for the Buccaneers.

Bottom 6
Alex Furl hits a single that drops into shallow left.
Carson Wilson hits a two-run home run over the left field wall. That’s Wilson’s first bomb of the postseason.
Dillon Frye grounds out to first.
Tyler Castleberry walks. Alex Mercer back in to run for Castleberry.
Nick Durazo flies out. Alex Mercer is picked off at first to end the inning.

End 6:
Lee County leads Laney 4-0.
Carson Wilson’s two-run home run scored Alex Furl in the sixth.
Chris Thompson and Nick Durazo have the other two runs for the Yellow Jackets.

Top 7:
Jeremy Bland flies out.
Corbin Bednarczyk flies out to the third baseman, who is now Dillon Frye.
Caleb Wells grounds out to end the game.

Lee County wins 4-0 and forces a game three.

The pitching duo of Dillon Frye and Trent Clark allowed just two hits in the win.
Game two stats coming soon. Game three will begin at around 1:31.

Ryan LaGrange had the only two hits in the game for Laney (16-9).
Lee County:
Carson Wilson’s two run home run was his first of the playoffs. Wilson finished 1-for-3 at the plate.
Tyler Castleberry was 1-for-2 with a walk.
Nick Durazo: 1-for-3 with a run scored.
Garrett Verrilli: 1-for-2, RBI.
Alex Furl: 1-for-3 with a run scored.
Julio Parades: 1-for-3.

Duke-Butler was one heck of a game

It pains me to do this, because I am not a Duke fan but congratulations are in order to the 2009-10 Duke Blue Devils for winning the NCAA Men’s National Championship.

So, congrats to Duke. Nothing and no one can take this title away from the Blue Devils. They were the best team in the Final Four and maybe, in the entire tournament.

In my opinion, though, it’s the Butler Bulldogs that deserve a bigger congratulations for a remarkable season. Butler, despite being a massive underdog in the entire tournament, looked like a team that belonged on the same court as the Blue Devils in one of the greatest NCAA title games that I can remember. They looked like a team that belonged with higher seeds Syracuse, Kansas State and last year’s national runner-up, Michigan State.

While Duke was the team that ultimately cut down the nets and are clearly the outright NCAA National Champions, this tournament wasn’t about the Blue Devils.

This tournament wasn’t about teams like Syracuse, Kansas, or even Kentucky. It wasn’t about Saint Mary’s or Cornell, even though both programs had magical runs to the Sweet 16. It wasn’t about Michigan State and how great of a tournament coach Tom Izzo is or West Virginia and its run through the Big East Tournament all the way to the Final Four.

The 2009-10 NCAA Tournament was about the Butler Bulldogs. The small school that was just six miles away from the dome in which they were playing in the school’s first Final Four. The small Indianapolis school that once courted the player that hit the shot, which inspired the movie “Hoosiers.”

The NCAA Tournament was about 33-year-old head coach Brad Stevens, Gordon Hayward, Matt Howard and the entire Butler team. Butler, while not a true cinderella because it was a preseason Top 20 team and once held the nation’s longest winning streak in basketball, did what Cinderella’s of a few previous tournaments couldn’t do.

Get to the big one. George Mason got the Final Four, but didn’t win it. Davidson came oh-so-close with Stephen Curry a few seasons ago, but the magic ended when

Kansas eliminated the Wildcats in the Elite 8.

But Butler did.

The Bulldogs beat some top teams en route to their quest for the school’s first NCAA

Title in history, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

But it didn’t stop the Bulldogs from playing, and playing hard.

From start to finish, the NCAA Championship game between Butler and Duke was one of the best title games in history. Much of the world was rooting for the underdogs to ultimately win it all, it just clearly wasn’t meant to be.

Imagine if Hayward’s shot had gone in when he heaved it up from halfcourt. It would’ve superceded Christian Laetner’s game-winning shot against Kentucky in the Elite Eight years ago as the greatest shot in NCAA Tournament history.

The shot almost fell in and Butler almost had a title.


So, thanks to the great game Butler played, I don’t find myself too upset about the fact that Duke won the NCAA Tournament.

Duke had the better players, the more experienced coach and the better breaks. Butler just couldn’t get the needed breaks to go its way or the big shots to go down late in the game.

While it didn’t win the school a championship, you have to give Butler an ‘A’ for effort.

Both schools deserve a congratulations.

Duke deserves one because of what it did. The Blue Devils silenced the naysayers out there that said the ACC is a mediocre conference. They silenced those that thought the Big East was the best conference in America or that the Big 12 was clearly better.

At the end of the day, the ACC has produced national champions in back-to-back years. North Carolina won it in 08-09 and Duke did it this year.

Duke showed the world that it’s still obvious that the ACC is still king until someone can stop it.

Butler deserves a congrats for one helluva ride. America got behind Butler all the way to the title game. Butler spoke up for underdogs everywhere that, they too, can make a magical run to the championship.

The Bulldogs showed everyone that the little guys do deserve to be on the grandest stage of them all.

Butler came, Butler saw, but at the end it was Duke that conquered.