This past Sunday, the No. 1-ranked Brooksville Bombers played another doubleheader where they came away with a couple victories against the Central Florida Legends.
Other than the scores, 13-3 and 7-4, there was nothing really remarkable about the games themselves. Except they were played on the same field where the Tampa Bay Rays just finished defeating the Baltimore Orioles that same afternoon.
When Brooksville's Dalton Mosser crossed home plate for the game's first run in the bottom of the first inning, he was touching the same plate that Rays star B.J. Upton had crossed after hitting a three-homer to power his team to a key division win.
"There's nothing more important than what this means to these kids," Brooksville manager Randy Mosser said. "They all earned everything they got and more."
The Rays, celebrating Family Fun Day at the ballpark, generously invited the teams to play for three hours on the field. The baselines were redrawn with a new pitcher's mound established. After only a short time from the final pitch by Rays closer Troy Percival, the Bombers were taking the field to the excitement of friends and family watching behind home plate.
"I was really excited to have my grandmother to come see me play because she'd never seen me play before," J.P. Gates said. "I did well for my family and that made me happy."
The Rays dubbed it the Field of Dreams Game as each player was treated to his own music when stepping to the plate. His name and face were plastered across the huge video monitor in right field that the pros see all the time.
Announcing the game was Nature Coast Technical High football coach Jamie Joyner. Joyner, who also announces Nature Coast softball games, was asked by Bombers' assistant coach, Dominic Orlando, since he is so familiar with the routine. However, even an adult like Joyner was taken aback by the experience.
"I have to admit that it was a little intimidating," Joyner said. "You get a little nervous leading up to (the game) because it's not everyday you get to walk into the Trop and do that kind of thing."
Brooksville, the top-ranked 8-and-under AAU club in the state, was playing its third and fourth games in only three days. Still, the schedule did not seem to faze them. In the first game, the Bombers scored in every inning on their way to a 13-3 mercy-rule rout of the Legends.
The Legends were technically the visitors that day, but for all intents and purposes, there was little home-field advantage for Brooksville. Brendan Sessa, one of the stars for Brooksville on the mound, was not shy about how nervous he was when he walked out there.
"When I walked out onto the field, I had a knot in my stomach," Sessa said. "It's different being out there in the Rays stadium with the kind of players that play out there normally."
From here, the season begins to wind down for the Bombers. Even Mosser knows it's going to be hard to imagine an outcome this season that could top the memories and experience those players got Sunday.
"It gives you chills as a coach to see the looks on these kids' faces," Mosser said. "This was the opportunity of a lifetime for this group."
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