Bombers derive pride from reboundAugust 13, 2012
By BRENDAN PERKINS
Herald Sports Editor
HUNTINGBURG — Landon Curry had heard, um, not-so-great things.
“Last summer I had a buddy who played on this team, and he said they were awful last year,” said Curry, the Dubois County Bombers left fielder. “Coming into it, I didn’t really expect much. I didn’t really even expect to win. But when I got here, met a bunch of great guys, saw we had a lot of talent, and we just played well together and had a really good season.”
The Bombers didn’t leave League Stadium for the final time Saturday night with everything they wanted, but they came awfully close. They sparked the team that had chronically struggled over the last few years to its first winning season in five years. They stormed to the Prospect League’s championship series for the first time, and it required rallies in both games from the league’s best team to keep the Bombers’ turnaround season from one final highlight.
The West Virginia Miners topped Dubois County 6-3 to sweep the best-of-three series. And where their push for a title came up empty, they were unquestionably a success in reviving interest in Huntingburg’s summer-league squad.
After Tuesday’s win over Terre Haute that tipped the Bombers into the championship series, an elderly couple approached Dubois County manager Ryan Anderson, telling him they’d had season tickets for years and this year’s version of the Bombers won them over like no team before. After wins this season, the Bombers made a habit of trotting past the Third Base Deadbeats and slapping hands with the cowbell-toting super fans. After Saturday’s loss, another fan told Curry, “Great summer. Thank you for the entertainment.”
“I told them there’s nothing to hang their head about. The only people who thought we’d get here were the guys on the team and the coaching staff,” said Anderson, an assistant coach at Vincennes University. “I’ll always remember this team. I told the guys they’ll always have a special place in my heart. This is my first time being the head coach of a team, and I’ll remember each and every one of them.”
Anderson had a reprise all summer, constantly praising the grit of a team that was tough to terminate. Saturday, West Virginia’s pop was too much to overcome, as Bradley Strong ripped a solo homer in the first inning, Luke Meeteer delivered a go-ahead, two-run double in the seventh and Gray Stafford pummeled a two-run homer in the eighth.
After the Miners (43-19) assumed a 4-2 lead, though, the Bombers (37-26) tried to linger the way they know best. Austin Nyman flared a single, then scored after he stole second and the Miners committed two throwing errors in pursuit. Earlier, the Bombers grabbed a 2-1 edge in the third when Curry and Zach Long scored on one of Kolin Conner’s three singles.
The lead held through the seventh, even as Bombers starter and Heritage Hills High School product Ty Simpson didn’t quite feel like himself. Simpson said he struggled to locate off-speed pitches. But relying on mostly one pitch, Simpson still pieced together five straight scoreless innings.
Simpson knew it wasn’t his best, but problem-solving out of trouble is part of the pitching portfolio he wanted to build over the summer.
“For me and Coach Anderson, we looked at it as our jobs, because we’re out here promoting ourselves, because I know he’s looking for a place to coach after Vincennes to work up to a head coaching position, and I’m looking to go to a four-year university. We looked at it as a job,” Simpson said. “For the Bombers to win the whole league would have been huge, because we don’t have the funding or, I hate to say it, but the support that other teams do. Just getting this far was an accomplishment in itself.”
For Curry, his stint in Huntingburg was a chance to build a bond with Ryan Billo, the University of Evansville pitcher whom Curry could see on the other side when he returns to Indiana State. Curry also will see more of Cody Daily, another Missouri Valley Conference player who’s headed to Southern Illinois.
“It was good to meet him and add another buddy on my friend list,” Curry said. “Just a bunch of guys that I’m sure I’ll be in touch with and maybe even play against in the future.”
They might not be on the same side again, as is the transitory nature of summer baseball. But Simpson was among the Bombers who figured they made a mark during their summer layover at League Stadium.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” Simpson said. “Hopefully after this year, (they can) get some more support of the Bombers and just grow from here.”
Contact Brendan Perkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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