Meridian Mets set for Dizzy Dean
By By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
July 19, 2002
Brian Keith Cole may be gone, but a group of Meridian youths are playing in his honor as the Meridian Mets.
Cole was a standout prospect in the New York Mets organization when he was tragically killed in an automobile accident right after spring training in 2001. Cole was reportedly on his way home to Meridian from the Mets' camp at Port St. Lucia, Fla.
Cole got his start playing baseball with the Crestwood Baseball League located just off I-20/59 in Meridian. On Friday, the Meridian Mets, named in honor of Cole, head back to Florida to play in the Dizzy Dean 12-year-old World Series.
Going to the Dizzy Dean World Series is nothing new for the Crestwood League. It's a league that has produced many of Meridian's current professional athletes like Dexter McCleon of the St. Louis Rams and current Jackson Senators' catcher Gerard McCall.
Dizzy Dean structures their World Series differently than other organizations. The tournament that begins on Saturday in Pace, Fla., will feature 30 teams. The 15-16-year-old age group had its World Series last week in Columbus.
The Meridian Mets have had plenty of success already this season. They are 7-2 in tournament play. They started with a three-game sweep to the district title in Louisville.
There, the Mets ripped Lake 14-5, Union 14-4 and Lake again 12-2. That earned a trip to the State Tourney at Oak Grove in Hattiesburg.
At State, the Mets beat Northwest Rankin 14-5, lost to Oak Grove American 5-4, beat North Jackson 10-1, downed Senatobia 7-2 and then beat Oak Grove National 5-4 to reach the finals. In the title game, the Mets lost to Grenada Recreation 12-10.
Hitting and pitching are two of the team's strengths. The Mets have averaged 10 runs a game during tourney play.
Leading the way for the Mets is first baseman Johnny "Junior" Timmons who has belted a team high five homers. Shortstop Khari Usher and catcher Derick Smith have each hit three.
The remainder of the infield has Cordero Gale at third base and D.J. Roberts at second base. The outfield has Justin Lenton in left, D. Martin in right and the platoon of Jared Hudnall and Rashard Grace in center.
The Mets pitching staff is anchored by ace Donovan Walker.
Behind Walker, the Mets can use Usher, Timmons, Hudnall, Grace and Rico Cole.
The team is rounded by reserves David Smith, Richard Carlisle and Trey Conley.