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Jacobs Field hosts high school game

Jacobs Field hosts high school game

CLEVELAND -- Tom Hamilton has called more than 1,000 games and a pair of World Series at Jacobs Field.

But Hamilton, in his 18th season as the radio voice of the Indians, knows no Tribe game will top watching his son play in a high school game at Jacobs Field on Friday afternoon.

"This is the thrill of a lifetime," said Hamilton, sitting in the first row behind the Indians' dugout. "To be able to see your son play on this field is something you never think would be possible. As a father, you couldn't be more proud or happy."

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Hamilton's son, Nick, is the starting third baseman for Avon Lake, which fell to Westlake, 7-1, in the opening game of the Cleveland Indians Charities Hardball Classic. The score, though, seemed to matter a little less on this day.

Even for Westlake. Immediately after its win, the players began to focus on more important matters. Tuxedoes draped over their shoulders, the team's seniors rushed into the park's auxiliary locker room to shower and change. Next stop, the Senior Prom.

In fact, Westlake was originally slated to play Friday night. But when Demons coach Jeff Short asked a few of his seniors earlier this season if they minded missing prom, he got an unexpected answer.

We're moving the game, coach. Short could only laugh.

"You know what's weird," Short said, "is that 20 years ago, if it was us guys playing baseball and if somebody said, 'You could go to prom or you could play at Jacobs Field, we would go in a heartbeat to Jacobs Field.'

"The sad thing is that this senior class I have, they love baseball, they're hard nosed and they're passionate. ... These are kids that I thought would say, 'We're playing at night, coach.'"

So alas, prom would come first. But the game would go on, the sunny start hardly spoiling the day.

When Avon Lake's Chris Meyer doubled in the first inning, he said his smile was "180 feet wide."

"This was great," he said.

That emotion was common. For everyone involved in this two-day, 16-team event seemed to realize just how rare and wonderful this opportunity was.

Westlake's starting pitcher Kyle Speicher, who gave up one run over six innings, said his team had looked ahead to this game since winter.

"Of course, we've been looking forward to this forever," he said. "It's a dream. I've always wanted to play here."

"I told [the kids] this is awesome," Short said. "You get to play at Jacobs Field and you get out of school for a half-day."

Bob DiBiasio could certainly sense this "awesomeness." As the Tribe's vice president of public relations watched from the stands, his nephew, James, banged out three hits for Westlake. DiBiasio, too, realized no Tribe game could trump this.

"We're putting smiles on these kids' faces that will be there for the rest of their lives," DiBiasio said. "It's thrilling for us, and then to see my nephew play, it makes this special day even a little bit more special."

Not to say it was always easy to watch.

"I was much more nervous for this than I was for Game 7 of the World Series in 1997," Hamilton said.

West Geauga takes down No. 1: Alex Port's bases-loaded triple keyed a five-run fifth inning for West Geauga as they topped Kenston, 8-4, in the Classic's second game at Jacobs Field.

Kenston (20-3), the top-ranked team in Division II, topped West Geauga, 9-8, earlier this week.

Gilmour glides: In Friday's nightcap, Scott Brigeman tossed a complete game in Gilmour Academy's 6-1 win over Beachwood.

Gilmour put the game away early with two-run innings in the second and third. A pair of those runs came off wild pitches by Beachwood starter Brad Goldberg.

David Briggs is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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