By Brian Hoffman – Sports Editor
Eight Botetourt County boys played in “The Last Inning” at Salem Memorial Ballpark Saturday night as the Salem Red Sox, the Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame and some local sponsors put on an event for high school seniors who missed their seasons.
“It was a tremendous event from beginning to end,” said Red Sox GM Allen Lawrence. “It was easily the bright spot of 2020 for all of our staff at the Red Sox and ranked near the top of events I have personally been in a part of in my 19 years here. The players and their families were so grateful and this made it even more special. We could not have done this without the help from Gary(Walthall) and all of our sponsors. It was a total team effort.”
Four teams of about 15 players competed in a doubleheader, with all the players being introduced between games with their families. The 3 pm game featured the Red team, with players from Lord Botetourt, James River, Alleghany County, Franklin County, Patrick Henry and Covington taking on the Gray team, featuring players from William Byrd, Staunton River, Cave Spring, Radford and Eastern Montgomery. The Red team jumped out to a 7-1 lead but the Gray rallied to win, 12-9, with a five-run bottom of the eighth.
James River’s Garrett Aaron had two hits in the game and drove in a run, and teammate Chase Oberg also had an RBI single as Aaron and Oberg had back-to-back RBIs in a five-run fourth inning rally. River’s Dyllan McAllister and Lord Botetourt’s Luke Hale also had hits for the Red team.
On the mound, Brae Farrell of LB was the starting pitcher for the Red, working a scoreless first. Aaron and McAllister of River also pitched scoreless innings and Kevin Austin got out of an eighth inning jam after LB’s Luke Hale had trouble finding the strike zone. Hale ended up taking the loss.
In the nightcap the Green and Blue teams played with Green taking a 6-4 win. The Green included players from Salem, Glenvar, Northside, Craig County and Auburn while the Blue was stocked by Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Hidden Valley, William Fleming and North Cross.
A large crowd attended and observed social distancing. The event proved to be a big success and hopes are to continue it next summer.
”Until Saturday, I honestly had not given consideration to making this an annual event but after the success of this event, it seems like we may need to,” said Lawrence.