Rain proves difference in 2A North baseball semifinals

Joel Wilkinson is a fabulous talent. The hard throwing right hander for East Union’s baseball team, like many great pitchers do, seemed to get stronger as Monday’s critical game three against Calhoun City moved into the late innings.
Standing in the Calhoun City dugout, I could hear the thump of the ball hitting the catcher’s mitt getting louder and louder as the game went on. He was dominant, allowing only one hit in his five innings of relief that ultimately punched the Urchins’ ticket to the 2A North Half Championship Series later this week versus East Webster.

Joel McNeece

But I have to ask, should Wilkinson have been pitching at all on Monday? Should there have even been a game on Monday?

The two teams split the opening two games of the series forcing a deciding game three on Saturday. It was exactly the scenario Calhoun City Coach Josh Miller outlined for me before the series even started.
Leaning against the bleachers at the Wildcats’ field early last week, Coach Miller said he could see his team going to East Union and losing game one with Wilkinson on the mound, possibly even by a lopsided score.

But he believed they would be in a position to win Friday and Saturday, with Wilkinson unavailable due to pitch count, because their pitching matched up better.
It seemed to be playing out exactly in that manner until rains came in late Friday night and Saturday morning. It was mostly gone by lunchtime.
The game, originally scheduled for that afternoon, was pushed back to that night then postponed with the possibility of playing Sunday afternoon, when it was a cloudless, sunny sky and 80-plus degrees. But no, the game was ultimately moved to Monday, which opened the door for Wilkinson to return to the mound for the Urchins.

The troubling fact is East Union did host a playoff softball game Saturday against Lake. The softball field sits right beside the beautiful baseball stadium on the school’s campus just north of Blue Springs. They could play softball, but not baseball on Saturday?
To Coach Miller’s credit, he didn’t make any excuses on Saturday or Monday.
“That’s why you play the regular season, to earn a top seed and home field advantage,” he said.

The Urchins used that higher seed to push the deciding game three to Monday to bring their talented right hander back into the mix. I can’t say for certain the Wildcats would have won had the teams played on Saturday. You never know with baseball, but I suspect things would have gone differently because Wilkinson is a top-flight talent deserving of all the accolades he’s receiving.

I do know East Union will badly miss his services at the beginning of the series with East Webster this week due to his pitch count on Monday, unless the sunny, 90-degree forecast for this week suddenly finds some rain in the Blue Springs area.
While they weren’t playing baseball in Blue Springs, I took advantage of the beautiful weather to pull the Harley out of the garage, give it a full scale spring cleaning and go for a nice, long cruise.

It was my kind of Harley weather – hot and sunny. No leather required, just shorts and flip flops weaving through the curves of Hwy. 32 into Water Valley.
My 17-year-old Harley still runs like it’s just now getting “broke-in” good. Maybe that’s because I don’t get on it near as much as I would like.
I’ve yet to figure out what happened to all my spare time. I remember a time in life when I had spare time all over the place to go and do what I wanted when I wanted. Now it’s a daily struggle to find time to get the necessities done.

Many friends in the same quandary have sold their Harleys over the past several years since they were rarely climbing aboard. I don’t foresee that day coming.
I may not get to ride it like I used to, but when those rare occasions do come around like last weekend – racing down the highway with the wind in my face and the feel of all that horsepower in the tiniest tweak of my wrist – I’m taking advantage of it.