by Alan Hodge
CORNELIUS – There weren’t any professional baseball scouts in the stands Saturday, May 7, at the third annual Guns-n-Hoses fundraiser softball game between members of the Cornelius Police Department and Cornelius-Lemly Fire Rescue, but rescue workers played like there were.
The game, held at the American Legion Post 86 Park in Cornelius, raised money for a planned veterans memorial that will be erected on the town hall. The monument will be inscribed with names of veterans who were honorably discharged from the U.S. military and who have lived in Cornelius at some point in their lives.
Cornelius Police Sgt. George Brinzey said the amount raised this year from the Guns-n-Hoses game, as well as food and T-shirt sales, was about $2,000.
The game drew an enthusiastic crowd as well as a group of volunteers. Co-workers Stephanie Radhuber, Anita Turner and Jenifer O’Melia from Kylie’s Sports Bar and Grill in Cornelius gave their Saturday afternoon to serve as bat girls.
“It’s a great cause,” Radhuber said. “This is my second year as a bat girl.”
The Hough High School Honor Guard presented the colors before the game, and University of North Carolina at Charlotte student Kelly Huyne belted out the national anthem.
Action on the ball field got started with a home run derby and set the tone for the softball game. Brinzey came out the derby winner with six homers struck with such force that they landed in the road beyond the stadium fence.
The game was a hard-fought affair that saw the Guns douse the Hoses by a score of 20-13.
The first couple of innings looked to be a Guns blowout with them taking a stunning 12-2 lead. But a grand slam in the top of third inning by Hoses team member George Quattlebaum changed the momentum of the game.
With his team trailing, Hoses leader Cale Ervin rallied his men.
“Come on you guys,” Ervin exhorted. “You hit like a bunch of paramedics. Let’s go!”
Ervin’s words had an electrifying effect on his team and they surged in the sixth inning on the back of a triple by Hoses catcher John “Spud” Lang, trying to close the gap.
Guns’ Brinzey put on a master class in home run hitting as he socked another one into the road in the seventh. The Hoses answered with an in-park home run by Neal Smith, assisted by some Guns errors.
A homerun by Gun’s Matthew Shepard sealed the score in the ninth inning.
Following the game, the winning trophy was presented to Brinzey and his teammates, but he insisted that both teams share it.
“Everyone was a winner here today,” he said.