North Augustans take field in game at Fenway Park

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Three professional baseball players with North Augusta ties saw their career paths come together Saturday afternoon. The reunion was also a baseball player’s dream. It came at Fenway Park.

The Boston Red Sox held their annual “Futures at Fenway” event, which gives their minor league affiliates the chance to play at the historic stadium.

The first game of the day went to the organization’s short-season, New York-Penn League team, the Hudson Valley Renegades.

North Augusta native Madison Younginer was with the team as part of a minor league rehab assignment. The right-handed starting pitcher began the year with the Single-A Greenville Drive but has dealt with elbow problems this summer.

Younginer pitched Friday night, so he didn’t play at Fenway, but he was there to support his team.

The visiting team’s dugout had two other North Augusta products.

Taylor Guerrieri and Marty Gantt, both former North Augusta High School stars, have been playing for the Hudson Valley Renegades and played Lowell in the Fenway Park contest.

“It’s a great honor to be able to start there,” Guerrieri told the Poughkeepsie Journal before the game. “You think about all the names who pitched there, who played there – it’s a legendary ballpark. I’m pretty excited about it.”

Guerrieri was the visiting team’s starting pitcher and allowed one run on three hits and no walks over three innings to help the Renegades earn a 6-5 win.

Gantt started in left field and went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts.

QUITE A WEEK: Guerrieri’s start in a big league park wasn’t the only highlight for him last week.

The 19-year-old right-hander also pitched in the New York-Penn League’s All-Star Game on Tuesday.

Guerrieri gave up an inside-the-park home run to the first batter he faced in the eighth inning but recovered to retire the other three batters in his one-inning outing.

The Tampa Bay Rays’ first-round pick has a 1-2 record and 1.22 ERA in nine starts for Hudson Valley this season.

CLUTCH: Former Greenbrier High School and University of Georgia star Rich Poythress came through when his team needed it most Friday night at the Double-A level.

The Seattle Mariners prospect and his Jackson Generals teammates played 12 innings with the Mississippi Braves without a winner.

Jackson loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the 13th for Poythress, who singled to left field for the game-winning RBI.

The 25-year-old first baseman had already done his part offensively. He went 5 for 7 in the game with a double and a triple. The game-winning RBI was his fourth of the night.

Poythress entered Saturday’s game hitting .310 with 39 RBI over 73 games.

NEW TEAM: Another Greenbrier product, James Shanks, returned to his former team last week.

Shanks had been playing his third season with the York Revolution in the independent Atlantic League but was released on Friday, Aug. 10.

The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, who had Shanks on their roster for the entire 2008 and 2009 seasons, scooped him up three days later and plugged him in as a starting outfielder.

Shanks had been hitting .249 for York with 41 RBI and nine home runs over 77 games. Through the first five games with his new team he hit .200 with a home run.

COMING TO TOWN: A promotion last week will soon bring one of the top picks out of this year’s draft to Augusta.

The Miami Marlins, who selected Andrew Heaney with the ninth overall pick in June, bumped him up to the Single-A South Atlantic League on Monday where he joined the Greensboro Grasshoppers’ pitching staff.

Heaney, a left-handed pitcher out of Oklahoma State, was immediately plugged into the starting rotation and will be with Greensboro when the Grasshoppers come to Lake Olmstead Stadium this week to face the Augusta GreenJackets in a four-game weekend series starting Thursday.


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