E.A. Sports Today

Burgess back for Wildcats

Senior first baseman strokes first extra-base hit of season, declares himself completely back

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

WHITE PLAINS – Kolby Burgess stood on second base and let out a big sigh. It had been a while since he had expended that much energy on a hit and he had to admit what it represented felt good to him.

The first-inning double was Burgess’ only hit of the game, one of a dozen the White Plains baseball team collected Friday in its 12-1 win over Pleasant Valley, but it was his first extra-base hit since last spring and it convinced him he was all the way back.

“I’ve been putting the ball in play and I was really hoping one would fall,” the senior first baseman said. “This was the first one I barreled-up. When I stopped at second it was kind of like a relief to get the first one out of the way.”

Burgess is still coming back from the knee injury – the same knee he tore up as a 10th grader – he suffered last spring that kept him out of the football season and most of the basketball season. He made his first game appearance of the basketball season during the Calhoun County Tournament, but was hoping to be full strength for his last hurrah in baseball.

The double let him know everything was fine.

“It was like a half of year of not doing anything … and now all of a sudden I got a hit and I’m back in the swing of things, kind of,” he said. “I took a pretty big breath when I got to second.

“It really just confirms I’m back all the way. It confirms my knee is completely healed and I’m back.”

It certainly is a good sign for the Wildcats. Burgess is their regular first baseman, bringing size and athleticism to the lineup. His other two hits this season were singles in each of the first two games of the year.

“Just him being out here is a huge deal,” White Plains coach Chad Hudson said. “He’s been in our program since the seventh grade, he’s played multiple positions, he’s done whatever we’ve asked him to do and above all else he is a phenomenal teammate. He’s adored by his teammates, and for him to play a significant role for us is a lot of fun for all of us.”

Burgess wasn’t the only White Plains player coming back from something. Freshman right-hander Andrew Cronin made his first varsity start on the mound, but he had been fighting a stomach virus all week.

Still, he worked a complete game against the Raiders, giving up seven hits and striking out four. He was a little shaky early, giving up five hits in the first two innings, but then retired 10 in a row after Kris Emerson’s RBI-double knocked in the Raiders’ only run in the second inning.

“This morning I didn’t feel too well, but after I started warming up and started getting ready for the game I started feeling a little better,” Cronin said. “I started throwing harder, so it helped me focus.”

He got a lot of support. The Wildcats scored five in the first inning and closed it out with Kevin Carr’s three-run double in the sixth. Nine of their 10 batters who came to the plate reach base at least once. Carr went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, Landon Price went 3-for-3 and a walk, Jarrett Webb had two hits and Taylor Morrow had four RBIs.

White Plains 12, Pleasant Valley 1

Pleasant Valley 010 000 — 1 7 1
White Plains 510 105 — 12 12 0

R.J. SIMPSON, Elijah Borders (3), Kris Emerson (6) and Drew Bonds; ANDREW CRONIN and Jarrett Webb, Jake Spivey (6). 2B: Kris Emerson (PV), Kevin Carr (WP), Landon Price (WP), Kolby Burgess (WP), Taylor Morrow (WP). WP: Cronin (1-0). LP: Simpson.

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