Jerry Sands got an opportunity and made the most of it.
Sands, a Smithfield-Selma High graduate, was called up by the Cleveland Indians from their Triple-A club last weekend and promptly went 3-for-4 in his first game (April 11) with four runs batted in.
Since then, Sands is leading the Indians in batting with a .412 average (7-for-17) and has played in four games.
Sands was called up to add some right-handed batting help to the Indians’ bench.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“After the next couple day’s starts, we really don’t need a fifth starter, so we’ll have an extra arm in the bullpen,” Indians manager Terry Francona told mlb.com. “And we’re facing a bunch of left-handers in the next couple weeks, so having the extra position player -- especially a right-handed hitter -- can help us.”
Sands, who has played with the Dodgers in the Majors previously, hit .304 in spring training with two home runs and seven RBIs in 22 games.
“He had a good spring,” Francona said of Sands. “He came in and he had that [season-ending wrist surgery in 2014] that was taken care of before, and there was some thought that he might not really be ready. But he did such a good job that he was more ready. I think what opened our eye was -- because we knew he could swing the bat -- was the way he handled himself defensively.”
The two doubles he notched in his MLB debut this season quickly made him a cult favorite among Indians fans at Jacobs Field and around the globe. He was trending on Twitter after Saturday’s performance.
Henry is top SEC swimmer: West Johnston grad Sarah Henry was named the Southeastern Conference’s Swimmer of the Year last week.
Henry, a 16-time All-American, closed out her standout Texas A&M career with an NCAA championship in the 400-yard individual medley last month. In addition to the first national title of her career, Henry also placed third in the 500 free and fourth in the 1,650 free, as well as swimming the anchor leg on the Aggies’ fourth-place 800 free relay. At the 2015 SEC Championships, Henry earned top three finishes in the 400 IM and the 500 and 1,650 freestyles. She finished her career as the school record holder in the 500-, 1,000- and 1,650 freestyle and the 800 free relay.
Whitley to play in Australia: Garner High School sophomore Tylor Whitley has been invited to participate in the Down Under Games in Australia this summer. The games are an international camp/competition for athletes to train and compete against athletes from across the globe.
Whitley was an all-conference selection for Garner in girls golf this season and played in the NCHSAA 4A state championships, while posting a 4.3 GPA.
The tournaments will July 3-11.
Whitley and her family are currently raising funds to pay for the trip. Contributions can be made at gofundme.com/r92nus.
Cox speeds away at Rockingham: Former Smithfield-Selma High and University of North Carolina baseball standout Jay Cox is having more success in drag racing. The Smithfield resident qualified first in the Pro Nitrous division during the Professional Drag Racing Association’s Spring Nationals at Rockingham Dragway on Saturday.
Cox posted a time of 3.744 seconds and a speed of 200.35 miles per hour in qualifying driving his 1969 Camaro. In Sunday’s elimination round, he bowed out in the semifinals.
Golf notables: Bill Brooks of Clayton was the low net championship flight winner in the Tarheel Seniors Golf Tour event at Pine Hollow Golf Club on April 15. He posted a 68. Garner’s James Junk was second in low net in the first flight and Clayton’s Mike Dillon took closest to the pin honors on the fifth hole.