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Baseball league about more than wins, losses

JEFF BIRCHFIELD • Jun 25, 2020 at 10:00 AM

JOHNSON CITY — Lots of sunshine, baseball and natural rivalries. There was plenty to like in the East Tennessee High School Baseball League on Wednesday evening at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.

Team Whited, made up of Dobyns-Bennett players, faced off against the Wahoos, players from Cherokee High School. The league is about much more than wins and losses after the high school season was canceled in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Team Whited lost 10-4 to the Wahoos, but the final result didn’t matter as much as the boys being able to get out there and enjoy time with high school teammates.

“This gives us something to do that’s really fun,” Team Whited catcher Connor McMillian said. “We’re able to get together after a time of nothingness. It’s different than our normal travel team because you get the feel more of what the season is going to be like next year.”

Although there were no games in the spring, it didn’t mean the players were sitting around. Their coaches wanted to ensure they would be ready to go if and when the league was formed. They designed programs to keep them busy.

“Our strength and conditioning coach gave us some at-home workouts,” McMillian said. “We did some running for conditioning, and we had hitting scheduled on our own sometimes.”

It was the same over in Johnson City as Jack Torbett, who plays for the Home of Daniel Norris team, explained. Torbett scored three runs in the team of Science Hill students’ 16-6 victory over Team Boro, made up of David Crockett players.

“It’s great to be back out here after sitting in our houses for three months,” Torbett said. “We could get on certain fields to keep our arms in shape, and certain ones of us would run. We also had a private indoor facility that some of us were able to use. We had to be smart about it like who could go and when.”

Now with the season three weeks in, McMillian appreciates how the games are all played in Appalachian League stadiums that have served as home fields for the Johnson City Cardinals and Elizabethton Twins.

“Getting to play at the big-time fields is pretty cool,” he said. “We’re getting to see a lot of different people at different places and face some pretty good competition.”

As for Wednesday’s game, the Wahoo’s Tucker Owens went 2-for-3 with a triple and single and a pair of RBIs. Isaac Williams was also 2-for-3, and Jesse Fogerty scored three runs.

Peyton Grimm suffered the loss for Team Whited, but he led them at the plate with three hits. Lead-off batter Brady Stump reached base twice and scored a run.

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