Our Turn: R’ham Orange players, fans show true colors

Our Turn: A new opinion-based feature on PeeDeePost.com which goes nicely with its counterpart, Your Turn. The two forums offer staff at The Pee Dee Post and its readers the forums needed to write in about issues of the day. Email us at peedeepost@gmail.com if you wish to chime in on a specific topic.

Our second Our Turn focuses on the actions of parents and Rockingham Orange team members after the Orange team was eliminated from the All-Star tournament on Saturday in Garner.

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

GARNER — It’s easy to be nice and friendly when your team wins. It’s more difficult to be so accommodating when your team — whether the Panthers in Charlotte, Team USA in the World Cup half a world away or your child’s Little League baseball team seated 20 feet away from you — is eliminated.

On Saturday, that’s the situation that faced the parents, coaches and team members of the Rockingham Orange 8-and-under coach pitch baseball team. The Orange fell 8-6 to High Point, ending their turn in the double-elimination tournament in Wake County.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Coach Mike Eason, seated in center, talks with his players after the team's 11-8 loss on Sunday to West Raleigh.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Coach Mike Eason, seated in center, talks with his players after the team’s 11-8 loss on Sunday to West Raleigh.

The parents, coaches and kids could have packed up and gone home. No more hotel bills. No more eating out. Time to get on with summer, right?

Nope. Not this group. Instead, they stayed. To a man, woman and child, nearly every single person remained to cheer and support their fellow Rockingham players. Half of the third base sideline was filled with orange-clad spectators supporting the Rockingham Blue team, still alive Sunday as they went up against West Raleigh.

On Friday, the Blue crew had beaten West Raleigh 16-15. Coach Mike Eason knew it wasn’t going to be easy to do it again, and the effort was dealt and early blow when West Raleigh third baseman, Cameron Crewes, launched a two-run homer over the outfield fence in the first inning.

“I didn’t know he could hit it that far,” one coach said.

The Blue team found out that several players could hit the ball at least to the outfield fence. With runners on first and second in the top of the third, Crewes was at bat again. Back up, coaches told the players. Infielders toed the shallow edges of the outfield grass. Crewes, meanwhile, popped up to the pitcher. A disaster averted.

Only for a moment. Unfortunately, the next batter — much smaller than the Miguel Cabrera-esque third baseman — launched a drive to right center that scored both base runners and gave West Raleigh a 6-1 advantage.

The cheers when Crewes’ pop up was caught began with the Orange-clad parents and players, sitting on the sidelines in hopes that the Blue team could mount a comeback. There was, after all, plenty of time.

The Rockingham Blue squad trailed 11-2 after West Raleigh added another run in the top of the fifth inning. The Blue team was down to its final six outs. Eason was there telling his players there was still hope. Plenty of time. Just go up to the plate and swing.

And with each swing — with each hit, there was a cheer from the blue-and-orange-colored fan base on the third base side. With each missed swing, there was a gasp. No one was louder when Rockingham Blue scored twice in the bottom of the fifth to pull within seven runs, or in the bottom of the sixth and final inning — with the bases loaded and one out. The Blue crew needed seven to tie and force extra innings. They scored four. Game over, 11-8.

Most certainly, the players and parents of the Rockingham Orange team wanted the Orange team to advance. That makes good sense, as we’re all generally “in it to win it.” But when the chips were down, the youngsters of Rockingham Orange were guided by their parents and coaches on how to act with class after a loss.

Hold your head high. Support your fellow players.

Both the Blue and Orange teams were eliminated over the weekend, but that didn’t prevent everyone from walking away with a first-place medal in sportsmanship.

Filed in: Latest Headlines, Opinion, Sports

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