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Babe Ruth baseball throws first pitch Monday night

After a 15-year hiatus, Babe Ruth baseball is back in Demopolis.

The four teams for the Babe Ruth League’s inaugural year took the field for the first time Monday night, with Greene County Steam Plant matching up against Community Bank and Parr’s Chevron facing New Era Cap Co. The teams are comprised of 13-, 14-, and 15-year olds, a big change from previous years in which 13- and 14-year olds competed together in that Dixie Youth league age group.

“We felt like there was a need for the 15-year olds, so we’re filling that space,” says Rob Pearson, director for the Babe Ruth League. “It seems like the numbers are up. There’s a lot of excitement about the season.”

Babe Ruth is a different entity than Dixie Youth, which will result in different All-Star competition come the end of the summer and plenty of rules adjustments for those who played Dixie Youth last year.

“Babe Ruth is a lot closer to regulation baseball,” says Pearson. “It’s 90 feet to the bases and a 60-foot mound. It’s what they’ll find when to move on to high school baseball.”

Pearson says a number of factors besides the switch to Babe Ruth should create a fun and exciting season for the players.

“We’re really happy with the coaches. We think they’ll do a great job with the transition from Little League to high school,” Pearson says.

“We’ve got some kids from Greensboro, some from York and Livingston, some from Eutaw, so really from all over area. We’re happy about that. And we feel we have four teams of about equal strength, which is what we want. There should be real competitive games all year.”

There certainly were on the season’s first evening, when both games could have been decided by one late-inning swing of the bat.

Behind a strong starting pitching performance by Scott Cannon and some late clutch hitting, New Era Cap edged Parr’s Chevron 3-2. New Era trailed 2-1 for much of the game, struggling against Parr’s pitcher John Mackey and losing a fourth-inning opportunity when catcher Jacob Kerby made a sensational throw for a strike-’em-out-throw-’em-out double play. But New Era got one in the fifth and one in the sixth for the win, the second run coming on a two-out single by Johnny Gardner to drive in Alex Glass. Shelby Speegle pitched a perfect seventh to secure the victory.

In the other game, Greene County Steam Plant survived a pair of late-inning rallies to defeat Community Bank 7-4. The game was tied 3-3 after a big first inning by both teams, but both pitchers settled down and the game entered the top of the fifth still tied 3-3. Greene County Steam Plant erupted for four runs in the inning, however, with Jordan Yelverton providing the go-ahead RBI on a soft single to center.

Community Bank wasn’t done, however, as they loaded the bases in both the fifth and sixth innings. But they could only squeeze one run out of it thanks to Lane Phillips, who came on in relief to deliver a pair of strikeouts in the sixth and pitch a 1-2-3 seventh to ice the win.

“We’ve got great kids and the two best baseball fields in the state,” said Person. “It’s a good day to start the league.”