Justin Drew is just a freshman at Big Pine High, but he’s already getting some hard knocks – and respect – on the varsity level.
Drew was hit by a pitch and suffered a broken nose and concussion during the Warriors’ 10-7 loss to Lone Pine last Friday in non-league action.
Storylines abound from this game between the Owens Valley rivals that was played at Clear Channel Stadium in Lancaster:
Drew was hit by a good friend of his, Lone Pine’s Mike Cappello. Drew and Cappello had been buddies when Drew lived in Independence before moving to Big Pine about six years ago, Big Pine athletic director Bob Church said.
“They’re still friends,” Church said. “I felt so bad for Mike. He was visibly upset.”
Church said the sound of the baseball hitting Drew was “sickening … there was blood everywhere.”
The game was one of several high-school contests last week at the home stadium of the Houston Astro Single A affiliate Lancaster Jethawks, and Church said the host team was “very classy.”
“They took him to the hospital, saying it would be faster than waiting for an ambulance,” Church said. “The Jethawks organization was great. They gave all the kids T-shirts and tickets. I was impressed.”
The longtime Big Pine AD was also impressed with young Drew.
“He’s always been a good kid, and he was polite and nice, very mature at the hospital,” Church said. “He did Big Pine proud.”
Despite getting hit in the face, Drew was thinking more about his teammates, Church said. The Warriors had just nine players on the team, leaving them one short after Drew was hit.
“We had the double-header scheduled for Saturday against Beatty, and (Drew) wanted to know if he could play,” Church said with a chuckle. “The doctor said no, but that kid wanted to suit up, didn’t want his team to forfeit.”
But the game in Lancaster went on without Drew. Since Big Pine then had just eight players, the rules call for an automatic out when the missing player’s spot comes up in the batting order.
“However,” Big Pine coach Scott Rosga noted, “Lone Pine showed a lot of class and agreed to waive the rule.”
So, from Lone Pine coach Troy Strawn to the Jethawks to a tough young man in Justin Drew to many others, it was a non-league game to remember. You can be sure buddies Drew and Cappello will be retelling the story for years to come.
Drew’s mom, Carol, said today her son was “OK, but he can’t get rid of the headaches. They said that’s what happens with concussions.”
Justin wants to get back on the diamond, “but I won’t let him, his nose is still unstable,” Carol Drew said. “He was so mad when it happened. He was really looking forward to hitting in that stadium.”
Drew may be cleared to play in a couple of weeks, and was expected to be back at school Thursday.
He deserves a hearty welcome.