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Youth baseball: Gary Metro advances to first Intermediate state tournament

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Updated: August 14, 2013 6:17AM



Though travel ball has taken off in recent years, it’s not the best fit for every young baseball player.

“Travel ball is very expensive,” said Ed French, president of the Gary Metro Little League, whose registration fee is just $20. That’s hundreds of dollars less than most travel ball fees.

One of the draws of travel ball is the chance to play better competition than is usually found in town leagues. French knows that, which is one reason Gary Metro was an early adopter of Little League’s newest wrinkle.

It’s the Intermediate Division, which has 70 feet between the bases and 50 feet between the mound and the plate. Intermediate players, ages 11-13, would previously have competed in the Major (11-12) or Junior (13-14) divisions.

Gary Metro was one of four District 1 leagues to give Intermediate ball a chance this summer; the others were Merrillville, Portage and Valparaiso.

“We decided to make sure that the kids would get better competition, get a chance to play better teams,” French said.

In fact, Gary Metro’s Intermediate team took that idea one step further by playing a Junior League schedule against 13- and 14-year-olds in addition to the games against clubs in their own age group.

The formula was a successful one, as Gary Metro won the recent District 1 tournament to qualify for the first Intermediate state tournament, which began Friday night in Terre Haute.

French is hoping this team’s run isn’t over. And he’s also looking for it to provide some inspiration in a sport that’s fallen behind others in Gary in recent years.

“By us having the District 1 banner and the championship — if we can come back with a state trophy and rings, other kids can see state jackets ... other people will say maybe basketball is not all that then,” French said.

The Intermediate squad is one of 24 under the Gary Metro umbrella. The league has almost 400 players from tee-ball through Big League (17-18), whom French hopes are learning about life as well as baseball.

“We teach them how to be respectful,” French said. “We have zero tolerance for that (other) nonsense.”

The Intermediate team is coached by Johnny Henderson, Robert Hudson and Sam Outlar. Players are Jerome Lynch, Aaron Whitaker, Keonte Anthony, Derrick Edwards, Joseph Moore, Charles Thompson, Caylan Alcorn, Emmanuel Daggett, Joshua Henderson, Anthony Outlar, Trummie Hudson and Langston Stalling.

Double Duty for duo: Portage’s Kevin Jones and Bishop Noll’s Angel Figueroa were among the players who took part in the sixth annual Double Duty Classic Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field. The event, named

for the late Negro Leagues star Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe, was preceded by a forum that touched on the history of civil rights and African-Americans in baseball.’

Jones pitched two scoreless innings for the East All-Stars, who won 6-1.

The Post-Tribune welcomes information about local summer baseball teams and camps. Please email story tips to mclark@suntimes.com.



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