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Pirates capture coveted booty - a jumbo bat

Crystal River rolls over county foe Lecanto 13-5 in the Joe Rigney Jr. Memorial Bat Game.

By BRIAN SUMERS
Published March 29, 2006


LECANTO - As the Pirates strode across the diamond to shake hands with their rivals, infielder C.J. Trenary led the procession, clutching a nearly 6-foot tall wooden bat.

"He looked like a midget standing next to it," Crystal River first baseman and pitcher Kevin Fry said.

Fry and his teammates were in good spirits Tuesday night after easily dispatching Lecanto 13-5 in the annual Joe Rigney Jr. Memorial Bat Game, which honors the former Panther who died in a 1993 car accident.

Fry, a three-year Lecanto player who transferred this season, received the bat after the team's postgame discussion, and he clutched it tightly. The senior had won it once before - as a Lecanto sophomore - but remembered being blown out by Crystal River last season.

Holding it for the first time, the 6-foot-4 right-hander guessed the bat, a replica Louisville Slugger, weighed about 30 pounds. He noticed the bat was hollow in the middle, but said he was still struck by its size.

"I'm strong enough to hold it," said Fry, who as a pitcher retired the final six Panther batters Tuesday. "But I can't swing it."

Fry replaced starter Matt Schrantz, who improved to 5-1 despite issuing five walks, hitting two batters and throwing a wild pitch. But the Pirates offense bailed him out, sending nine to the plate in both the third and sixth innings.

Fry, scheduled to start tonight against Central, said he wasn't sure he would pitch against his old teammates, though he had circled this game when he first saw the Pirates' schedule.

"I was waiting since the beginning of the season to throw in this game," Fry said. "It's been a dream for about six months.

His teammates, too, enjoyed the moment, celebrating loudly in the dugout throughout the game. Lecanto's dugout, meanwhile, was eerily quiet.

The joking continued afterward, when 5-foot-6 outfielder Chris Dobson posed next to the bat and learned he was about a half inch taller than the wooden replica.

Still, coach Rob Cummins wasn't so sure.

"If you push the hair down," he said with a smile, "it's taller than you."