This week leading up to Easter has become one of the busiest and most interesting weeks of the area prep baseball season. With no games scheduled on Good Friday, teams play their normal Friday games on Thursday.
And thanks to last Friday’s rain that washed out Two Rivers 3A Conference play in the area, most of those teams will play three league games in four days — 30 percent of their conference schedule.
Then comes Saturday and the start of the annual Johnston County Easter Invitational at South Johnston. Five JoCo teams — Cleveland, Clayton, Smithfield-Selma, West Johnston and host South — are in the field. Cleveland and Clayton play the rubber game of their season schedule after splitting their two regular-season games to start the tournament at noon.
West Johnston takes on Triton in the second game, then there’s a break for a Home Run Derby before Bunn and SSS meet at 5:30 and host South takes on Harnett Central at 7:30.
Play continues Monday and Tuesday with four games on each of those days. The semifinals start at 5 on Monday and the championship game is set for about 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
All games are at South’s Bruce Coats Field as usual.
Corinth Holders also is in action for the holiday week. The Pirates are in a round-robin event in Wilson, playing games at Fleming Stadium and Wilson Fike.
Sands’ blast draws raves: Smithfield-Selma grad Jerry Sands hit the longest home run so far this year in Spring Training last Tuesday. Sands, an outfielder trying to make the Cleveland Indians’ Major League roster, hit a 3-0 pitch off of the Giants’ Ryan Vogelsong over the 55-foot high batter’s eye in centerfield some 405 feet away from the plate. The shot was estimated to have traveled 580 feet.
“That’s what you do with a 3-0 pitch,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona told MLB.com. “That was worth the price of admission. Man, that was a pretty swing.”
Sands is having a great Spring, hitting .375 with a .944 OPS through 14 games and 32 at bats with the Indians.
Watch Jerry Sands’ monster Home Run