Evans High baseball fans clustered to the left of home plate. Their Knights gathered in the third-base dugout of Lake Olmstead Stadium, slugging their way to an 8-3 victory over the Thomson Bulldogs.
Elizabeth and Steve Anderson took front-row seats, rooting for their twin sons, Matt and Kyle.
“It’s neat to get to see them play in a stadium like this,” Steve Anderson said. “It’s something different from the high school field.”
He said he didn’t think the players were intimidated by playing in a professional baseball park.
“They’ve been playing a long time,” he said.
Matt wore his No. 5 jersey behind the plate. A pitcher, Kyle stood ready to wear his No. 14 if needed.
Matt probably would not play, Elizabeth said, because he was scheduled to pitch Friday night against Statesboro.
“It’s pretty neat, first here and then at Georgia Southern,” she said.
She agreed that the players would not be intimidated.
“They’ve been playing ball forever,” she said.
In the stands below the pressbox, Jennifer Rachels, of Grovetown, cheered for the Knights. Her son, Trevor, wears the No. 4 jersey for Evans.
“He’s been playing four years,” she said as she cheered the team. “I think it’s an exciting opportunity for them.”
Hunter Rachels, a
seventh-grader at Riverside Middle School, also cheered the Knights. He said he knows all the players, and he hopes to one day play for Evans.
After the last Thomson out, Evans coach Ricky Beale said he was pleased with the opportunity to play in the professional ballpark. He said the team played at Lake Olmstead two years ago, against Harlem.
“It’s a different group of kids now,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun for the kids and it’s a different atmosphere.”
Matt Anderson agreed that it was fun, but confessed that the professional field presented some pressure at first.
“Maybe a little,” he said with a laugh.
Bill Doupe’ watched his son Hank play second base for the Thomson Bulldogs.
Doupe’ commended the Augusta GreenJackets for creating the opportunity.
“Whoever did it, hats off,” he said. “I don’t know who set it up and how it came to be, but it was a fantastic idea and the GreenJackets folks ought to be commended for offering our boys a chance to play in a professional stadium.”
Thomson coach Aaron Hall said the venue offered good experience for the players.
“I think it was kind of overwhelming to them at first, that they were out of their element,” Hall said. “But that might help us down the road. Who knows what kind of atmosphere we’ll see in the playoffs?”
Thomson starting pitcher Austin Cooper said he tried not to be intimidated by the surroundings.
“Like Coach Hall said before, everything’s the same between the lines,” Cooper said. “The only difference is it’s 400 feet to the fence.”