By Mark Hardin, Cincinnati Enquirer
Baseball players for Finneytown and Roger Bacon and softball players for Princeton and Withrow were part of a special occasion Saturday afternoon at the P&G Cincinnati MLB Urban Youth Academy at Roselawn Sports Complex.
Former Reds pitcher Tom Browning threw out the ceremonial first pitch during opening festivities beginning the fifth annual Skyline Chili Reds Futures High School Showcase presented by Cincinnati Children's Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics.
"The cool thing is, they got the girls and the guys involved this year," said Browning, author of the Reds' lone perfect game. "This complex is great. It's good for rejuvenating the inner city, and the kids get the instruction they need. This is just a great way to kick off summer."
The baseball players were treated to the smooth baritone of Reds public announcer Joe Zerhusen, who introduced hitters during each at-bat of Saturday's first of a seven-game Reds Futures Showcase opening day schedule at the complex's four fields.
"That was pretty sweet," said Roger Bacon senior Alex Speed. "We'll see what the future holds for me."
Roger Bacon made the most of the big day by earning its first win of the season with a 15-0 rout of Finneytown, and Speed played a big part. The Spartans (1-1) plated a run in the first. They scored five in the second, seven in the third and two in the fourth against the Wildcats (1-2).
Big hits for Roger Bacon were provided by Speed, who drilled a two-run single in the bottom of the second, and pitcher Jeordon Kuderer, whose two-run double later in the inning put the Spartans ahead, 6-0. Speed added a two-run single in the third, making it 10-0.
Speed went 3-for-4 with four RBI. Kuderer went 2-for-4 with three RBI, and pitched five innings of one-hit ball while earning the win and striking out eight. Kuderer drove in the first run.
"This whole thing is a first class operation, beginning with the first pitch. Our kids got juiced up for Tom Browning," Roger Bacon coach Tim McCoy said. "As far as the game, Jeordon is a pretty overpowering pitcher, and he's pretty tough when he's around the zone like he was today. And we made solid contact."
In the showcase's inaugural softball opener, Princeton snapped a 29-game losing streak with a 14-0 win over Withrow, giving second-year coach Emily Breitholle her first win. Jasmine Vincenzo earned the victory for Princeton (1-3). Battery mate Mariah Cone, who caught Browning's ceremonial first pitch, went 2-or-4.
"It's very awesome to get a win," said Breitholle, a former Northern Kentucky University softball player. "For the girls, it's nice to see them represent female sports at the Showcase."
This year's Showcase features 92 high school baseball and softball teams from Cincinnati, Dayton, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana playing a total of 47 games through April 30 at the region's premier facilities.
Finneytown 000 00 -- 0 1 5
Roger Bacon 157 2x -- 15 8 1
WP: Kuderer (1-1) 8 K's. LP: Whitt (0-1). Leaders. R-A. Speed 3-4, 2B, 4 RBI; Kuderer 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI; Otto 2-4, 2B; H. Bollmer 2-4. Records: F 1-2, RB 1-1.
Withrow 000 00 -- 0 4 4
Princeton 580 1x -- 14 7 1
WP: Vincenzo (1-3). LP: Moore. Leaders: W-Canada 3B. P-Cone 2-4. Records: W 0-3, P 1-3. [Read More]