Head coach Dan Crabtree gathered his squad prior to his squads exhibition game at Raley Field. I am sure he didn't have to tell his squad to be excited, because its not everyday young men get the opportunity to play on such a superb field.
The Gridley Bulldogs were given the opportunity to live out every young ball players dream when they were invited to play a non-league contest against the River Valley Falcons Monday night at Raley Field in West Sacramento. Raley Field is the home field of the Sacramento Rivercats, the Triple- A affiliate of the Oakland A's.
The Bulldogs were the beneficiaries of another teams disappointment when they were asked just a few weeks ago if they would be interested in replacing another team who dropped out do to scheduling conflicts caused by all the wet weather the past few weeks. With games piling up the team was forced to cancel, and when River Valley began looking around for a team to fill the void, there sat Gridley with an open schedule due to having a bye week with the odd number of teams in the Butte View League.
Both the junior varsity and varsity squads were able to play games at the park as part of a yearly effort by the River Cats to promote their brand by allowing local squads to play games when the team is on the road. After taking ground balls at the local high school fields, seeing the ball bouncing straight and true must have been a remarkable thing for the guys who took the field.
Gridley dropped both games against the much larger RV squads, but ultimately it didn't really matter. Seeing the faces of the kids on the field, and the looks of the proud parents watching their children play from the seats around home plate, you quickly sensed this game was about way more than the final score.
In the varsity game, Gridley jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the top of the first when freshman catcher Johnathan Villapania lined a clean single to centerfield. Seeing the ball go into the outfield is a totally different look when playing in a stadium, the white ball just seems to glow against the green grass as it carries out in the field.
Trevor Anthony then smoked a hard shot right over the bag at third base which rolled all the way to the 330 ft. fence for a triple driving in Villapania. While the ball was hit very hard, the ball wouldn't have cut through the thick grass of the Gridley varsity field, but on the manicured grass of a professional field, the ball just kept rolling, fooling the Falcon's left fielder who was unable to catch up to the ball before it got by him and to the fence. For the rest of this story, pick up a 4/27/12 edition of The Gridley Herald. Never Miss a score with a subscription. Call us today! 846-3661.