Two words never sounded so good - make that four words.
"Play ball!" and "Let's eat!"
Foul weather has frustrated Columbia County's prep baseball teams this month, but a sunny spring day brought fans out from under their umbrellas Saturday for the annual Diamond Day fund-raisers at Evans and Greenbrier high schools.
Raising money for each school's baseball program, fans were treated to barbecue cookouts while local teams took on other area schools.
The matchups had no implications regarding each team's region standings, but bragging rights were up for grabs when Evans took on Lakeside High School.
Evans pitcher Hank McCladdie gets high-fives for striking out the last batter of an inning.
Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker
Saturday's Diamond Day festivities were highlighted by the contest between the Knights and Panthers, and the rival squads put on quite a show.
Evans took a 5-2 lead, but Lakeside's Jonathan Crawford ripped a fifth-inning grand slam to put the Panthers ahead 6-5.
Travis Clark delivered the gopher ball, but the Evans junior saved the day with a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to lift the Knights to a thrilling 8-7 victory.
"It was a real good ball game," Evans coach Ricky Beale said. "Both teams battled the whole way. We were just lucky enough to have the last at-bat."
Meanwhile, Greenbrier whipped Westside High School 9-7 in the Diamond Day finale at the Brierpatch. The win improved the Pack's record to 6-0, but that was just a bonus.
"It's just nice to be back on the field again," said Greenbrier coach Ed Williams, referring to the constant rain that has prompted several postponements recently.
"You can only practice baseball in a gym so much before you get sick of it. We're playing a double header today and it gets my pitchers a chance to pitch and hitters a chance to hit. That's what they need more than anything else right now," Williams said.
The Greenbrier and Westside junior varsity squads started off the day at Greenbrier's Diamond Day. That was followed by a Westside-South Forsyth High School face-off and then South Forsyth took on the Wolfpack. The action concluded with a Greenbrier vs. Westside battle.
If the bleachers of the Evans diamond were empty it's because spectators took advantage of the great weather and picnicked on the grassy knoll behind left field.
"You really couldn't ask for better weather for baseball," said Lakeside assistant coach Jon Johnson, waiting for his teams match-up against the Knights.
"Now, if we can keep our errors down, we can put on a good showing with this team."
Lakeside took on the Knights following the Evans-North Augusta High School game. The Evans and Lakeside junior varsity squads met earlier in the day.
"I can't think of anything more fun than watching your kid play baseball on a day like today," said Mike Walker, whose son Zach plays on the Knights' freshman team.
The parents of Wolfpack junior catcher Jeremy Armstrong couldn't agree more.
"We moved to Columbia County because of the strong baseball program out here," said Bruce Armstrong.
"Yeah, and it's nice when they actually get to play," said Armstrong's wife, Kathy.
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