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Coastal Plain League: Crane Pilots Peninsula & Smith Blows Them Away For Columbia

 

 

Peninsula War Memorial Stadium was built back in 1947 in Hampton Virginia, and since then has been feeding baseball traditions. In the 50’s with the Newport News Baby Dodgers, the stadium graced and was graced by Gil Hodges and Johnny Podres as minor leaguers in the Dodgers farm system. Then in the early 60’s the Washington Senators moved in with their single A affiliate the Peninsula Greys, War Memorial Stadium was blessed by a young Johnny Bench and Lou Pinella. Overall and over the years 8 major league teams were housed in the stadium in order to develop their young investments. The Current Peninsula Pilots celebrated their 10th anniversary in ’09 as an official summer league team, and its capacity for 3,750 fans makes them a strong franchise.



This summer, the Pilots are in the 2nd half of the season and are in 2nd place behind the Edenton Steamers with a record of 5-2 and 18-17 overall in the North Division. One of their top hitters this summer is Chas Crane, an infielder with the 2nd highest batting average in the league (.361) after 97 at bats. Crane has hit 4 homeruns, with 26 RBI’s, and leads the league in both base on ball (29), and on base percentage (.504), two stats that are ultimately made for each other like water to rivers. Crane had an amazing spring at Winthrop University, leading the team with 18 doubles, 45 RBI’s, 38 walks, and 55 strikeouts. He also had the 2nd highest slugging percentage in the entire Big South Conference (.635). In the conference tournament, Crane slammed 2 homeruns as he went 3 for 5 with 5 RBI’s in a win over 6th seeded VMI. Since 1892 Columbia South Carolina has been home to minor league baseball teams. The Columbia Skyscrapers, Gamecocks, and the Corners have been some of the teams in Columbia early in the century. The Cincinnati Reds used Columbia as a minor league city from 1938 until the start of WW2 when the city suspended operations. In 1945 Columbia built its current Capital City Stadium, and by 1946 the Reds returned to find a brand new home to nurture their future stars. After the 1961 season, Capital City Stadium sat empty and sad without any baseball within its confines. In 1983 the New York Mets came to Columbia and won three pennants.

 

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The traditions run heavy, and the current Columbia Blowfish are in last place in the South Division at the outset of the 2nd half. Regardless of the summer standings, the Blowfish are featuring Derrick Smith, a right handed freshman pitcher who stands only 5’8 but is packing a strong punch. After 28.1 innings, Smith is 3-1, 0.95, with 40 strikeouts. Smith has pitched mostly in relief, in his 12 appearances; only 1 came as a starter. But, in that single start he had a complete game to go along with his 2 saves on the season. This past spring, Smith began his collegiate career with Erskine College of the D2 Conference Carolinas. Despite being much shorter than even the average college pitcher at his level, Smith was very effective in his 49.1 innings. He struck out an impressive 63 batters and posted a 5-2 record mostly in relief. In the Southeast Regional Tournament this past spring, Erskine College sent Smith out to face the favorite Mount Olive. Smith had a great 6.1 innings of an outing where he scattered only 3 hits, no runs, and struck out 5. He didn’t register in the decision, but Erskine lost to Mount Olive in a tough 2-1 game. Baseball is a regenerating game that requires some space, a stick, and at least one ball. Everything else is a blessing, and the Coastal Plain League is certainly blessed with everything baseball could honestly offer.

 

 

By Adrian Nevarez
DFN Sports Staff Writer

 

 


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