By Jerry Carter - March 17, 2009
Stonewall Jackson High School and the New Market Rebels teamed up this past week-end to host a 3-game series between NCAA Division One programs James Madison University and Bryant University at Rebel Park.
Generals Head Coach Bill Harlow provided the much needed grounds crew in the form of his varsity and junior varsity baseball players while Rebels General Manager Bruce Alger hosted the festivities for the Saturday/Sunday affair.
The pre-game ceremonies included New Market Mayor Larry Smith presenting a Key to the Town to JMU skipper Spanky McFarland. McFarland is in his 12th season at the helm of the Dukes baseball team and is now the first known recipient of a Key to New Market.
Mayor Smith had the honor of throwing out the first pitch in the historical series and also received an autographed baseball from the 2009 Dukes team. Once the festivities were concluded the Bulldogs from Smithfield, Rhode Island went to work on closing out a very successful week in the State of Virginia.
Bryant started out the week by sweeping a split double header over Radford and Virginia Tech before moving North to Richmond. The Spiders would drop two of three to the Road Warriors as well before the Bulldogs arrived at Rebel Park for the three game set.
Saturday belonged to the visiting team as Bryant hung five crooked numbers on the board against the Dukes in the nine inning contest. The Bulldogs won the opener on the strength of a 2,3,4,6 and 7 run inning during their 22-8 victory. The original plan was to play the second game of the series on Saturday but the weather forced it to be pushed back to Sunday.
The fact that the field was playable all day Sunday was due all of the hard work the players and coaches from Stonewall provided. From the second that the first game on Sunday ended until the start of the finale, the Generals worked on the diamond non-stop.
JMU rallied behind staff Ace Turner Phelps in Game 2 to even the series. Turner tossed six innings and earned the 9-4 victory behind the 3-run Home Run of Bryan Lescanec. Lescanec went deep on Saturday as well and finished the second game with 7 RBI’s for the series.
Game 3 would prove to be the nail bitter of the series when a pitchers duel went sideways late in the game. Bryant carried a 2-0 lead in to the bottom of the sixth in the seven inning contest but JMU pulled off one of the rarest of baseball feats. David Herbek, Trevor Knight and McKinnon Langston connected for back-to-back-to-back Home Runs.
JMU scored 7 runs in the frame and were 3 outs away from ending the series with a 2-1 victory. Bryant was down to its last outs when the Bulldogs managed to plate 6 runs of their own and steal an 8-7 victory over the Dukes. Pat McKenna led the charge with his second long ball of the game; capping off an impressive 8 for 14 series for the short stop.
The real winner of the week-end series was the town of New Market and the Rebels organization according to Alger.
"It had always been our dream to host a JMU series at Rebel Park and when your dreams become a reality it is always special," Alger said. "The week-end was everything we thought it would be and we hope that JMU considers Rebel Park a home away from home in the future."
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