Local trio puts on strong showing at the State Games|Duke, Gurganus and Leggett look sharp in Charlotte

Published 12:24 am Tuesday, June 22, 2010

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
A trio of area baseball stars put on a strong showing at the Powerade State Games over this past weekend in Charlotte.
Washington’s Jake Duke, along with Williamston’s Will Gurganus and Christian Leggett, each made solid contributions to their Region 1 team, which finished the four-day, round-robin style tournament with a 1-4 record.
Region 1, who is coached by North Pitt’s Ryan Meadows, as well as Williamston’s Hank Tice, Camden’s Mickey Drew and D.H. Conley’s Jason Mills, is comprised of 20 of the most talented baseball players in the area. While the team may have wanted to leave Charlotte with a few more wins, Tice said they can be proud of the fact that they left knowing they each gave a solid effort.
“We went out there and the kids played really well,” Tice said. “We went out and beat the team that won the gold and lost to another team by a walk-off homer in the bottom of the eighth.”
Region 1 opened the tournament with 4-3 loss to Region 3 on Thursday, then came out Friday and fell to Region 7 5-2. On Saturday, Region 1 put on its best showing with a 7-1 win over Region 5, but lost to Region 8 on the final day.
Region 5 took the gold by topping Region 6 by the score of 4-2, while Region 2 edged out Region 3 for the bronze with a 6-5 victory.
Every year the tournament is an opportunity for kids from all over the state to play in front of college scouts from every level.
So while Duke, Gurganus and Leggett may not have won gold, they at least earned some exposure.
“It’s a good experience for all the kids,” Tice said. “They get to go out and play in front of 300 or so scouts from Div. I to JUCO levels. Not only do they get looked at, they come back with an idea of what they need to work on and better ways to improve themselves.”
Region 1 followed a strict system that ensured every one of the 20 players got about the same number of innings played and at-bats. Each player on the team got roughly six at-bats during the tournament, and each of the three area kids got a hit; Gurganus, a rising junior, led the trio with two.
Aside from getting a hit, Washington star shortstop Duke flashed some leather despite playing on the other side of the diamond at second base.
“Duke had one of the best defensive plays over the weekend, it was a real web-gem,” Tice said. “A kid hit a rocket that bounced off the pitcher’s glove. Duke charged it and dived forward, scooped the ball with his glove and flipped it to first base to get the out. It’s a great play; the crowd loved it.”
 Tice also coached the Senior team during the East-West games. Tice’s squad won the first game 11-5, but fell the second time around, 6-3. The East’s opening day win was the first time it has beaten the West in three years.