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Senior boys race for first
Eli Cantrell - Rheagan Woodlee.jpg
Jeff's Towing 3B Eli Cantrell, left, tries to beat Mud Sluggers runner Rheagan Woodlee to third during their matchup Monday. Jeff's Towing won 11-10, helping it stay atop the league standings at 6-1.

A slow creeping of ominous clouds provided the perfect setting for heavyweight clashes at Midway Monday. A storm is brewing in the boys senior league, where teams are taking huge cuts to move up in the standings.

The boys provided all the thunder needed. Every crack of the bat, especially those coming from Matthew Vandagriff, sent an echo of noise throughout the farm land surrounding Midway. The only flash wasn’t lightning – it was Gabe Foster being a blur on the bases for Dreams of the Field Taxidermy.

By the end of the night, Jeff’s Towing and Bell and Sons Nursery emerged at the top of the pack, sharing pole position as the tournament – like those storm clouds Monday – creeps ever closer.

Jeff’s Towing (6-1) needed every hit Vandagriff could produce to hold off Mud Sluggers 11-10. Vandagriff finished 4-for-4 and a triple shy of the cycle, one he missed when he was tagged out sliding in at third in the sixth. 

Vandagriff finished with seven RBIs, including a three-run home run in the fourth and a pivotal, two-out, two-run double in the third.

The Sluggers had a late chance to earn their first win. Rheagan Woodlee drew his team within one in the seventh with a three-run, inside-the-park home run he slammed into right field with two outs. 

The Sluggers were stopped on the next pitch though, as DJ Moore made a running grab in left field to end the threat. The loss dropped Mud Sluggers to 0-8 this season.

Having to hold on late was new for Jeff’s Towing, which has typically turned it on in the final innings in its six wins.

“We’ve been good at coming alive in the third inning and turning it on,” said Jeff’s Towing coach Barry Vandagriff. “This was a tough one. We’re working to get back to how we were playing early in the season.”

Jeff’s Towing suffered its first loss last week, when Bell and Sons Nursery staked its claim as the top team with a resounding 32-12 victory. The Nurserymen kept up ground in the standings Monday by overcoming an early deficit to down Dreams of the Field Taxidermy 25-15.

CJ Taylor led the way with a pair of home runs after his team fell behind 9-0 in the top of first. It comes as no shock to Pioneer basketball or football fans that Taylor also excels on the diamond, where he’s become of the most feared hitters at Midway.

His blend of speed and power have made him virtually impossible to keep off the base paths, unless the lefty takes care of it with one swing – pounding deep shots over the short porch in right field.

Taylor’s late fireworks overshadowed the early power surge from Xander Lee. Lee hit his 13th home run while helping Dreams of the Field take an early lead, one also sparked by the speed of Foster. 

The lead-off hitter has been retired just two times in eight games, helping Dreams of the Field Taxidermy to a 5-3 record. Their coach, Dwayne Foster, believes the league has an abundance of talent evenly spread out, making each game a must-see event.

“They’re all good kids and we have a bunch of good teams,” said Foster.

In Monday’s late game, McBrides & Sons Rent House topped Warren Mechanical 13-8.

The league will resume play Monday, June 24 with a slate of three games beginning at 7 p.m.