Honoring Their Service

Pickens High baseball hosts Military Appreciation Day event

By Bru Nimmons
Staff Reporter

PICKENS — For the first time, the Pickens High School baseball team held a rousing Military Appreciation Day celebration Friday to honor military personnel during a game against Walhalla.

More than 50 current and former members of the United States Armed Forces were in attendance for the game, which saw the Blue Flame come up on the wrong end of a 10-2 final score against the Razorbacks.

The night began with Cadet Maj. Jordan Rucker delivering a student-led message to those on hand before the game, and members of each branch of the military were honored as their service anthems were played.

The largest of the pre-game festivities started soon after, as Command Sgt. Russell Vickery, the state commander of the Army National Guard, flew onto the field in a Blackhawk helicopter. Vickery threw out the ceremonial first pitch to former Pickens baseball player, and current Army National

Guardsman, 2nd Lt. Beau Strickland.

Following a performance of the national anthem by the Pickens First Baptist Church choir, the action was ready to begin.

The Flame got in trouble early, giving up a run in the first on a one-out double by Walhalla’s Alec Woodard, which brought home James Hanvey. It looked as though the Flame might regain the lead in the bottom half of the inning, as they loaded up the bases with only one out. However, they were unable to make the most of the opportunity with a strikeout and Jacob Perkins thrown out at home.

Neither team could get much going over the next two frames before the Walhalla bats came up big in the fourth. Cameron Watkins singled in Cody Barnes to give the Razorbacks a 2-0 lead going into the fifth. The Razorbacks really opened it up in the fifth, scoring four runs, including two on a two-out double by Adam Long.

Pickens came around in the bottom of the fifth looking to rally, but Cole Beaty was thrown out at home plate trying to advance on a double by Dawson Gilstrap. John Ingram was pulled from the mound in the sixth for the Flame, but Jackson Cudd continued to have trouble with the Walhalla bats giving up four runs over his two frames. Down 10-0 entering the bottom of the seventh, the Flame attempted one final rally.

Ingram reached base on a walk, and following a fly out by Cudd, Drew Campbell reached on a fielder’s choice. Pine Sanders knocked both runners home on a double to shrink the lead to 10-2, but that was all the Blue Flame could muster as Walhalla took home the victory.