By: Austin Alexander - September 24-25, 2016
Border Battle produces again, scouts galore, talent mega-fest
Holly Springs, NC was the place to be this weekend as the 8th Annual South Atlantic Border Battle went off without a hitch in front of 75+ professional scouts and a strong showing of college coaches on the East Coast too. North Main Athletic Complex was the site, a brand new $13 million, all turf baseball facility was an outstanding host for this event that continues to grow by the year. (R-Carmen Mlodzinki, Hilton Head)
In 2008, Jeff Petty came to me with a no-brainer of an idea that we launched at the College of Charleston a year later, hence, the first-ever SABB. It pitted six teams, two each from the Carolinas and Virginia, each state having an elite senior and junior team. Over the years, the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region was added, giving us our present format of eight clubs. In 2012, we were very fortunate to add Major League Baseball as a partner, elevating the Border Battle to a much more prestigious event. In addition to allowing us to minimize player fees, the cream of the crop were now able to don official MLB uniforms while enjoying a dugout full of pro scouts to mentor them during game action. In the previous seven fall's, we have moved the Border Battle to various college and pro venues in both of the Carolina's, each time talent and scouts have flocked to make this one of the most popular showcases in the country!
Once again, strong rosters full of committed players to an array of colleges were assembled up and down the coast to do "battle", even a good list of players still hunting for a school graced the diamond too. Weather has been an issue for us in the past, not this year as everything went smoothly on both days.
The South Carolina Mets (2017's) opened play on Saturday morning versus the North Carolina Braves (2017's) and proved to be the highlight of the weekend for the Sandlappers. Falling behind 2-0 early, SC starter Bryar Johnson (Carolina Forest) righted the ship in his second frame and set the stage for a very well-pitched opener by relievers Jack Stamler (JL Mann), Jon Scott (Lexington) and Houston Wright (Gaffney). Timely hitting by a bevy of Mets paced the good guys to a 6-3 victory.
That first game would, however, be the pinnacle of the four slates South Carolina would have success in, not the norm for our team's at the Border Battle. The Mets would go on to lose their second contest 12-3 to the Mid-Atlantic Rangers. The SC Marlins (2018's) fared little better ending up on the wrong end vs the NC Red Sox (10-1) and the Mid-Atlantic Brewers 7-3. Obviously a tough weekend for our groups of young men but by most accounts, a ton of fun was had by all during these exhibition games.
Somber Moment: Around 9:30 on Sunday morning, a good friend beside me said, "Jose Fernandez died?" It obviously got my attention, we began to discuss as a few other scouts right with us began quickly pulling up info on their phones. Immediate disbelief and shock became somber, empty feelings all around me. We sort of blacked out for an inning or two as we scrambled to gain more information. Thirty or so minutes later an outstanding explanation came over the PA, followed by a moment of silence. The ballpark remained virtually silent for a few minutes as we all processed the news further. There are a few things in your life when you remember where you were and who you were with when certain things occur...this was one of those for me. Sitting amongst a bunch of baseball-lifers, many of whom scouted him, knew him, had just spoken to him, shared stories of him...surreal, sadness and even more disbelief. I was fortunate to have met Jose Fernandez briefly with my sons last summer, he could not have been more kind, just like all the accounts you will hear on television. Our sport and society lost a winner on the water Sunday morning. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends, Marlins organization, what else is there to say? R.I.P. Jose Fernandez and thank you for the influence and example you left for all of us.
SC Mets 17's
SC Marlins 18's
Mets/Marlins Vitals: MPH and 60's times from the South Carolina rosters, click here.