The J.L. Hutchinson League enjoyed a beautiful Saturday for its Opening Day Jamboree and played 11 games, dedicated a new league namesake and fitted in celebrity guest first pitch appearances.
“Beautiful day,” J.L. Hutchinson board president Chris Ratzlaff said. “I thought things went off without a hitch. Great weather, great baseball . . . the kids had a great time.”
As well as free hot dogs and plenty of snow cones.
Ted Carnino, Frank German and Don Gutteridge, namesakes of three leagues under the J.L. Hutchinson umbrella. Saturday, the fourth league received another worthy namesake.
“The machine pitch league is the one league that we didn’t have a name attached to it,” Ratzlaff said. “Dick Webb’s done a lot for the community and for baseball, in particular, so we felt it fitting to dedicate the league to him. He was the owner of Watco. The Webb family and the Lundy family came out and threw out the first pitch.”
Webb died in 2009 after a four-week battle against lung cancer. Watco Companies, started in 1983 by Webb, developed into the third-largest short line railroad in the United States.
In the final Frank German contest of the day, the Watco Nationals defeated the Via Christi Braves 8-3.
The Braves started the scoring after a scoreless first inning. Carter Uttley singled and worked his way around to third on a stolen base and a throwing error by the catcher. Uttley scored on an Isaac Jurkovic 6-3 groundout.
The Nationals tied it up in their half of the second. Luke Orender doubled, Ethan Lomshek singled over Orender to third and Orender came home on a Mike Taylor 6-3 groundout.
The first two runs both came on 6-3 groundouts.
Brett Wiemers of Via Christi, who had reached on an infield single and stole two bases to only be stranded on third in the first, tripled in the third but scored this go-around after Peyton Steele connected on a RBI single.
Down 2-1, Watco responded with seven unanswered runs — four in the third, one in the fourth and two in the fifth.
Ben Boekhout and Braeden Letterman delivered back-to-back two-run hits in the third, Boekhout a single and Letterman a double.
Taylor singled, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a wild pitch and a throwing error by the Via Christi catcher.
Zach Catron and Zach Sutton came across in the fifth for the final Watco runs.
With a 8-2 lead headed into the final at-bat for Via Christi, the Braves managed only a single run on a Uttley RBI single.
Watco pitchers Sutton and Boekhout struck out 15 Braves between them.
Last year, Zac Dickey, John Brown and Anthony Abenoja represented Pittsburg State in throwing (or receiving) ceremonial first pitches. This year, Pitt State needed just one local celebrity.
Page 2 of 2 - “Gus Gorilla was out and he threw out first pitch on two of the diamonds,” Ratzlaff said. “Then, he went down and made an appearance at the Dick Webb League. . . . I was just grateful for good weather more than anything.”
Ratzlaff, who coaches the CP Communication Reds in the Ted Carnino, can personally attest to the effects of the weather this spring.
“Very little practice,” Ratzlaff said. “But we’re all even, start from square one. Had some good games on all the diamonds and I’m just glad baseball’s here.”
J.L. HUTCHINSON LEAGUE
Opening Day scores
Dick Webb League
Community National Bank Tigers 15, T&C Wildlife Rangers 13
Elks Astros 15, Morning Sun Diamondbacks 1
Midwest Minerals Brewers 15, Ron’s IGA Royals 2
CP Communications Reds 7, Jock’s Nitch Athletics 0
Wells Fargo White Sox 9, Lindburg Pharmacy Red Sox 1
Unique Metal Fabrication Pirates 12, Citizens Bank Dodgers 10
Meadowbrook Mall Twins 16, U.S. Awards Yankees 3
Community National Bank Mets 11, Knights of Columbus Cubs 3
Rotary Orioles 8, Sonic Drive-In Mariners 0
Watco Nationals 8, Via Christi Braves 3