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By Richard Taylor
If you’re looking for something interesting to do besides the island-wide yard sale Saturday, consider a rare triple-header baseball game.
That’s right — three games in a row against the Bear Grass Charter Bears, beginning at 2 p.m. at the Ocracoke Community ball field.
Ocracoke’s winless varsity team takes on the Bears in the five-inning opener. The Dolphin’s 6-1 middle schoolers take the diamond next, for a full six-inning game. Finally, the Bears and Dolphins’ varsity squads play five-innings again.
Why three games on a Saturday afternoon? Dolphins’ athletic director Adam Burleson explained that Bear Grass needed two more games to get into the state playoffs, due to washed-out games earlier in the season.
“The state freed up a rule, saying we could now play five-inning double-headers in order to squeeze in more games,” Burleson said Friday. “So, we came up with the idea of playing a five-inning varsity game, then playing a traditional six-inning two-hour middle-school game, and finally playing the second leg of the varsity double-header.”
Burleson scheduled the games for Saturday so that Bears pitchers could get their needed rest before other games next week.
“Bear Grass is one of the more established teams in the eastern North Carolina,” he said. “They are in first place in our (Atlantic 5) conference and usually go several rounds into the state 1A playoffs.”
The varsity Bears, who beat the Dolphins in February’s basketball tournament final, are a Martin County baseball powerhouse. Burleson said Bear Grass supports for baseball as much as Ocracoke lives for basketball.
The 13-1 Bears are ranked 51st in the state with a perfect 6-0 Atlantic 5 Conference record.
Coach Jim McClain’s varsity Dolphins are 0-6 overall and 0-5 in the conference. “We’re still building the program,” Burleson said regarding the team’s winless season. David Scott Esham, Brian Samick and Ernie Doshier are assistant coaches.
Conversely, Coach Bill Cole’s middle school team is 6-1 in the Tideland Middle School Athletic Conference, losing only to Hatteras 8-7 in a two-hour time-limited thriller Monday in Buxton. John Kattenberg is assistant coach.
Since Ocracoke does not have girls’ baseball teams, girls are allowed play with the boys. Seventh-grader Maren Donlon pitches and plays infield for the middle school team and Whisper Meacham plays right field for varsity.
The middle school Dolphins have two more games left and play Mattamuskeet here Monday at 2 p.m.
Saturday afternoon’s 50 percent chance of rain could affect play. Still, Burleson said, “We’re playing even if it rains. But the rules say we have to wait 20 minutes after any lightning.”
Thank you for getting the word out there about the school baseball games tomorrow as I am sure the kids will appreciate the fan support.
I would like to give the varsity team kudos and let them know how proud the island community is of their efforts this year playing a conference schedule. Not only are they basically a JV team holding their own against established seasoned high school programs, they have been that one big hit away from recording their first “W”. Of course those of us old enough and who have been around the block a few times realize the final score on the board is not what playing organized team sports is all about.
Furthermore, these boys and girls have been in some tight 2-0, 4-2 and 5-0 games that could of gone either way. Not bad for a young team paving the way for future Dolphins. Coach Jim, his assistants and the players deserve a thumbs up for their efforts next time you see them around the island.
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