For a change, the score wasn't the focal point of this Veto League night game. It was all about giving back and remembering others.
First the first time in its 23-year history, Veto League Baseball played under the lights at Northwest Park in Davenport. The beginning of an annual event - the VLB Memorial Game - was a massive success. A whopping 34 players participated in the contest, narrowly breaking the previous record of 33 which had stood for over 10 years. Another 40 or so fans came out to watch the amateur adult baseball league.
The game was played in remembrance of former Veto League players no longer with us today. Those players include Colby Moore (2020), Dan Sharp (2018), Jeff Kilgard (2017), Josh Smith (2017), Flynn Schulz (2013), Kaylen Eickstaedt (2011), Nathan Linn (2009) and John Gunter (2007). Josh Paul kicked off the festivities with some announcements and a moment of silence for those players. Johnny Readus gave a prayer, then Mason Kilgard threw out the first pitch to his aunt, Amber Kilgard. The game was then played like any other, but was a pre-determined 12 innings instead of the usual night game nine.
As an added bonus, this year's Memorial Game was also a benefit for "Foster's Voice", a Quad City-based non-profit organization promoting Suicide Awareness. Foster's Voice, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charity that understands that Suicide and Mental Health does not discriminate and can affect any person no matter your age, race, male or female, or your sexual orientation. Foster's Voice wants to end the Stigma of Suicide and let others know that it's ok NOT to be ok! To make a donation or find out more information, visit FostersVoice.org.
Between player and fan donations, $550 was raised for Foster's Voice, which helps the community by not only raising suicide awareness, but also awarding college scholarships.
Another highlight of the game were past players returning to the diamond to play for those no longer with us today. Those included Eddie Cupp (last played 2009), Joe Campagna (2011), Dan Tomlin (2012), Lenny DeBroeck Jr (2013), Lenny DeBroeck Sr (2013), Tim DeBroeck (2014) and Jon Weber (2017).
In typical VLB fashion, defense didn't steal the show. Alex Miller's Cannons put up an onslaught of runs early, jumping out to a 14-0 lead after four innings. Their bats stayed red hot enroute to a 28-15 blowout over Ryan Barton's Gremlins. The Cannons were aided by big innings in the second (9 runs) and eight (8), while the Gremlins didn't get bats going until the 10th when they plated 11. The Cannons outhit the Gremlins 37 to 22.
The MVP of the game went to the Gremlin's Lavanti Wright, who on the losing effort went 3-for-4 with a triple and his first over-the-fence homerun. Wright had two runs and a game high five RBI. The winning side was lead by rookie Dylan Hart's 3-for-5 with two doubles, three runs and two RBI. Rookies Kyle Kent and Tyler Roux also each cracked two doubles. Captain Miller added a game high four hits along with two runs and RBI.
Playoffs begin Saturday and Tuesday, and the annual All-Star Showcase is set for Saturday, September 12, at Douglas Park in Rock Island.