LEESBURG — Brandon Brock had been dreaming about becoming a high school baseball coach for the past 20 years since graduating from Lee County in 1994.
At 6 p.m. today, Brock’s dream becomes reality when the first-year Lee County coach begins the 2014 season against powerhouse Crisp County in the opening game of the Lee County High School Baseball Invitational.
“It’s kind of surreal,” said Brock, who took over the Trojan program when longtime coach Rob Williams stepped down after last season. “Taking over for someone who has had just one losing season in 25 years can be a tough task. But coach Williams laid a solid foundation, and it’s very easy to build on.”
Today’s game at Lee County High School is the first of five games through Saturday that also feature squads from Colquitt County and Rome High School. Lee will play again Friday at 7 p.m. against Colquitt and 2:30 p.m. Saturday against Rome, and Crisp County will play 4:30 p.m. Friday against Colquitt County.
The four teams playing in the tournament finished a combined 72-45 last season with Crisp playing in the Class AAAA semifinals and Colquitt County advancing to the Class AAAAA quarterfinals. Some of the state’s top pitchers will toe the rubber this weekend in Leesburg, including Georgia commit and Rome left-hander Bo Tucker, and Crisp County stars Landon Whitman and Stewart Tyler.
“Baseball, when it comes to the high school level, has taken a hit in this part of the state in recent years, and that’s why it’s important to have something like this with the talent that will be on the field,” Brock said. “It’s definitely going to be some great baseball for Southwest Georgia.”
The tournament, which had been called the “Greatest Show on Dirt” in past seasons, had to be partially cancelled last year because of weather, but the forecast is promising this weekend for the start of the prep baseball season.
The Bill Pate-coached Crisp County Cougars beat Lee County, 12-7, early last season in the first matchup between the old rivals in several years. Tonight it will be Lee County starter TJ Roberts taking the mound for the Trojans, who are looking to avenge last year’s loss to the Cougars and bounce back from a disappointing 10-16 season.
“We have a lot smaller group than normal, but we kind of pared it down to 16 quality baseball guys that all bring something to the table,” Brock said about his team. “And it’s exciting to play Crisp County first. We had played Crisp County for like 15 straight years and that kind of got away from us the last couple of years, so I’m glad they are coming because they bring so much talent to the table.”