Like the butcher down the street, Justin Lee can still cut it.
The former Cincinnati Reds draft pick from 2007 still has this yearning to play the game. Lee isn’t a fuzzy-faced kid any more. Lee is now 34 years old. But he hasn’t lost his fascination or his knack for playing baseball.
Lee has picked up his bat and glove again. He can still throw the fastball, the changeup and the slider. He throws strikes. He gets hits, and he is rediscovering his youth in the West Georgia Men’s Baseball League.
The older and still talented Lee is now playing for the Marlins, a La-Grange team.
“I have never lost the love for the game. I get to hang out with the guys. All of our guys were either good high school (baseball) players or good college players,” said the 5foot-10, 185-pound Lee.
He is still in shape and so are most of his teammates.
“These guys still have a chance to do something that they love,” said Lee.
He and the Marlins were back at it on Thursday night as they ran their record to 2-0 with an 11-3 win over the Red Sox at the Harris Baseball Complex. The Marlins outhit the Red Sox, 8-5 and rallied from an early 1-0 deficit.
“We got some key hits,” said Lee, the former All-Region player from Callaway High School (2000-03).
Lee was in the middle of the baseball mayhem and the rallies for the Marlins. Lee, who started at shortstop, singled to left field in the first inning. Lee also raked a double to left field for an RBI and a 6-1 Marlins lead in the bottom of the second inning.
The former Reds draft pick also ripped a double to right field in the fourth inning. Lee scored on a wild pitch to give the Marlins a 7-3 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning as well.
Lee and the Marlins took their first lead of the game in the first inning, courtesy of a Cory Matticola RBI double, Lee’s single to left field, a Brandon Smith fielder’s choice and a Will Smith two-RBI double. The Marlins rode their momentum to a 4-1 lead.
The Marlins scored another pair of runs in the second inning behind Lee’s RBI double and a Red Sox wild pitch that scored base runner Dnatay Heard. In the top of the third the Red Sox got a ringing single to center field from third baseman Joseph Shaw. The Red Sox could not bring him around to score, however.
The Red Sox did push a run across in the top of the fourth inning. Auston Wilson beat out a ground ball for an infield hit. He stole second base and third. And Wilson scored on a Pradeep Kunchala RBI groundout. The Red Sox whittled the Marlin lead to 6-2.
In the fifth inning the Red Sox scored again as Hunter Rollins came in on a Marlin wild pitch. Red Sox third baseman John Pursley also singled to right field in the inning. The Red Sox trimmed their deficit to 6-3.
“We’ve got some grinders,” said the 20year-old Wilson, the Red Sox shortstop.
And the Marlins have some heady base runners. The Marlins scored twice on wild pitches in the bottom of the fifth inning. Coming home were Marlin base runners Justin Lee and Steve Harry.
The Marlins opened their lead to 8-3. They also said good night to the Red Sox after scoring three runs on three hits in the sixth inning. The Marlins got a single from Brandon Smith, another single from Harry and a double from Dnatay Heard.
Tyler Bunn also recorded an RBI with a bases-loaded walk. The Marlins breezed to an 113 lead.
“Our defense hurt us, and the Marlins put the ball in play. Our defense needs to pick it up,” said Wilson, the Red Sox infielder and the ex-Heard County and Callaway High baseball star.
The Red Sox did score the first run of the night, however, in the top of the first inning on a Reeves Payne single, a stolen base, a Marlins fielding error and Wilson’s RBI groundout.
In the bottom of the first the Marlins came back with four runs. The Red Sox never led again in the Men’s League baseball game. The Red Sox are 02 on the season.
The author of this article can be reached via email at info@troupcountynews. net.