Alumni game caps big weekend
For Pioneer alumni, the door is always open at Patrick Ramsey Field.
Several former players got to lace up the cleats, grab a bat and put on the glove once again Saturday as the Warren County baseball program capped a big weekend with an alumni game.
Coach Phillip King was right in the middle of the action, both as the organizer of a big week that also saw the program retire former coach Ronnie Brown’s jersey and host its first golf fundraiser and on the field Saturday as an alumni. King was one of three former coaches – and players – who were out on the field. Jimmy Walker served as an all-time pitcher for four innings, while Joey Haston came in from Chattanooga to show he can still make plays on the diamond.
Brown didn’t play, but he was where most remember him for years – shouting instructions and encouragement from the dugout.
All together, there were over 20 former Pioneers in attendance Saturday, many who had showed up the night before for Brown’s retirement ceremony. They put on a show too.
There were several Sportscenter level highlights in the field, with King making a pair of diving stops at second getting the show started. Craig Rogers was a vacuum at third base all afternoon, while Bradford Watson showed he still had the instincts behind the plate on one bunt attempt by King, laying out to making a diving catch.
Offensively, it took a while for the players to find their swings, but the runs started piling up late. Logan Underhill and Chayse Frye both showed they hadn’t lost much power at the plate after successful college runs in recent years.
Underhill nearly missed a home run late, settling for a ground-rule double when a missile he sent to left field took one hop and landed in the Pioneer bullpen. It was one of three extra-base hits for Underhill, who serves as an assistant at WCMS and recently graduated from Martin Methodist after a standout career.
Frye, one of King’s assistant on the high school squad, roped some big shots into right field. He crushed one shot off King, who gave him few pointers before the big swing, and also hit a towering shot foul down the right-field line that would’ve been a homer if it would’ve stayed a few feet left.
Timmy Bryant pulled off a rare feat at the plate during a four-hit day. During one inning, Byant had a pair of doubles from both sides of the plate. Bryant smoked a double over the left fielder while hitting right-handed, then blistered a shot into the right-field gap while swinging lefty in his next at-bat.
The alumni ranged from Heath Kuykendall, a 2020 graduate, to Ron Lee, who was sporting his 50 years of Pioneers shirt as he was a player on the 1970 team.
Plans are already in place for another alumni game next year, with hopes the rosters are expanded – perhaps even with a few other players who have their numbers retired.
Brown ceremony excites crowd
Ronnie Brown loves Pioneer baseball. He loved the years he served as a coach, even bringing a championship to the school in 1992, and he still enjoys the game now as a dedicated fan. Brown is at every home game, pumping up the Pioneers from behind the fence – and, maybe occasionally, getting after the umpires.
Friday was a great day for the program as Brown had his No. 22 jersey retired, threw out the first pitch under the watchful eyes of several of his former players and had a banner unveiled under the scoreboard at Patrick Ramsey Field.
Brown’s banner was put out beside the only other players to have their jerseys retired – Lester Strode and Jamie ‘Cat’ Walker.
Brown was all smiles Friday and was just as energetic Saturday while taking in the alumni game. There was nobody more deserving of the recognition than the leader of the Pioneers’ heyday.
Pioneers fall to Coffee County
The only thing that didn’t go well for Warren County this weekend was Friday’s game. The Pioneers lost to Coffee County, coached by former alumni David Martin, 10-1. It was just perfect timing for a letdown game, especially considering Warren County’s hard work and effort spent to win the District 6AAA championship earlier in the week.
Exhaustion may have played a part in the tough loss. Warren County was playing its four game in five days, including its second in three days after the dogpile that followed Tuesday’s emotional win at White County.
It was just the team’s second loss in its last 14 games, including a 4-4 tie against DeKalb County. The Pioneers and Tigers were forced off the field in the sixth for good due to rain, spoiling a chance for Warren County to win its 20th game. The Pioneers had runners on first and second with one out when the game was called.
Warren County will be back in action Monday at Riverdale, then will play Upperman at home Tuesday, May 4. Tuesday’s game will also serve as senior night for the 14 Pioneers playing their final year. Warren County also added a home game Wednesday against Huntland.
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