Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Norcross' Jess Ramsey (22) soars into home plate before Parkview's catcher Hunter Thornton (27) receives the ball during the 2nd annual senior all-star baseball game featuring Gwinnett's best senior baseball players at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville Tuesday.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- The second annual Gwinnett County Dugout Club Senior All-Star doubleheader was supposed to be much more fun and relaxed than any regular season or playoff game.
And the atmosphere surrounding Tuesday's event was more easy going despite a number of obstacles that could've thrown it off.
Among those obstacles were a late change of venue to Coolray Field from the original site of Georgia Gwinnett College, the late arrival of the umpires, a freak collision on a play at second base and two very competitive games, with the West All-Stars taking the opener over East All-Stars 6-5, while Game 2 ended in a 7-7 tie.
Still, the day served its purpose of letting some of the top senior players from around the county have one last day on the diamond.
"It came out well," said West coach, and South Gwinnett head coach, Steve Teschner. "I think the kids had a good time. You can't find a better venue to go out there and perform in.
"It's a lot of fun to get some kids in your own dugout that you (usually) go to war with. What's really neat is that if you look at (each) roster, most of these kids are committed to play (college baseball) somewhere. These kids have earned their opportunity. It's going to be fun to watch these kids go on to the next level."
The laid back atmosphere briefly took a more serious tone when a player for each team was injured on a play in the top of the first inning of the nightcap.
North Gwinnett's Cody Short and Grayson's Brandon Benson collided with each other after the latter tagged the former out on a play near the second-base to end the inning.
Short not only had his head collide with Benson's knee, but apparently also got his hand accidentally spiked, causing a deep laceration.
Benson limped off the field and did not return, while Short was taken off the field on a stretcher before being transported to a local hospital.
"I was a little scared at first, but I'll be fine," said Benson, who went 0-for-1 in his only plate appearance in Game 1. "I was scared for (Short)."
Despite the scary moment in Game 2, as well as numerous walks and errors scattered throughout the day, both teams had their moments in each game.
In the opener, the West All-Stars jumped out to a 5-0 lead thanks to a three-run second inning -- keyed by sacrifice flies from Buford's Josh Bryan and GAC's Jordan Dudek and an RBI single from Short -- plus two more runs in the third on an RBI double by Mountain View's Beau Blair and an RBI ground out by Norcross' Jess Ramsey.
But the East answered with three in the fourth and two more in the fifth, with the key blows being a two-run single by South's Ryan Patterson and an RBI single from Justin Brew of Providence, to knot the game 5-all.
Ramsey then delivered his second hit and second RBI of the game with a single in the bottom of the fifth that put the West back in front at 6-5.
Mountain View's Joey Bell and North's Jordan Brown then tossed a shutout inning each in relief of GAC's Patrick Stone, who was the pitcher of record, to close out the win for the West.
In Game 2, the lead changed hands four different times, before the West answered the East's five-run rally in the bottom of the third with a three-spot of its own in the top of the fourth to tie the score at 7-apiece before pitching took over.
Mill Creek's Jesse Thomas, North's Michael Haynes and Collins Hill's Nate Williams combined to shut down the East on just three walks over the next four innings, while East hurlers Cletis Avery of Shiloh, Jack Banda of Grayson and Sam McCoy of Parkview retired nine of the last 10 West hitters over the final three innings.
The game wound up being halted with the game still tied, and with players from both teams having enjoyed the experience.
"It was just fun," said Ramsey, who finished the doubleheader 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. "That's rule No. 1 of baseball -- to have fun when you're playing. It was nice meeting all the guys I used to know from travel ball when I was younger, and getting to talk to all the coaches throughout the region. It was just a fun time. I had a blast."