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Fans enjoy G-Braves home opener

Jordan Clower, 11, of Loganville hopes for a ball to be tossed his way at the first Gwinnett Braves home game of the season on Friday night. (Photo: Chris Roughgarden/GBraves)

Jordan Clower, 11, of Loganville hopes for a ball to be tossed his way at the first Gwinnett Braves home game of the season on Friday night. (Photo: Chris Roughgarden/GBraves)

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Rachel Palmer, of Atlanta, poses with Chopper at the Gwinnett Braves season opening home game on Friday night. (Photo: Chris Roughgarden/GBraves)

LAWRENCEVILLE — Keili Buchanan’s favorite thing on Friday was the slide.

For a 4-year-old at her first Gwinnett Braves baseball game, that’s probably the way it should be. She promised she watched some of the game, but her parents, Travis and Heather, just smiled at the assertion.

The family, complete with 2-year-old son Asher, lives in Sugar Hill and decided to make Friday’s Gwinnett Braves home opener their first G-Braves game. They were part of an announced crowd of 7,968.

“It’s family night,” Travis Buchanan said. “We’ve been here seven years, I don’t know why we haven’t made it out yet.”

They made it out Friday at the suggestion of Heather. Trying to plan different things during Keili’s spring break, the idea came to Heather earlier in the day and the family grabbed a blanket, came to the park and bought outfield tickets.

“We didn’t really plan ahead,” Travis said.

Keili still had plenty of energy as the parents started to clean up the family’s staked-out area, but Asher has settled into dad’s lap, smiling but running out of steam.

“It’s good for the little ones,” Travis said.

Across the field, by the left field foul pole there was another father-son combination mixing in their own action while watching the game.

Father Allen Smith and son Dalton, 13, played catch on top of the retaining wall, pausing often to watch an at-bat or maybe just a pitch.

The Lawrenceville family, like the Buchanan’s, came to the park at the urging of mom.

“I got home from work and she said, ‘We are going to the game,’” Allen said. “I said, ‘OK, let’s go to the game.’”

Mom was still in the stands during the father-son catch. This was the second home opener for the Smith family, who live about three miles from Coolray Field. They attend about 20 games a season, always on a whim.

The in-game catch was Dalton’s idea. Dalton plays 14U baseball on a team coached by his father, the second baseman is a fan of Robinson Cano and Brando Phillips more than any team. He uses a Dustin Pedroia glove.

“I just like playing catch,” Dalton said.

And with the G-Braves back, he can do it while watching baseball.

“I just like the game of baseball,” Dalton said.

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