The San Quentin A’s premier players Anthony Denard and Branden Terrell whacked big homers to coast past the visiting Bay Area Barons 7-4, ending the season on a high-note.
“It’s all about patience, you have to wait on your pitch,” Denard said. “It took me two years to hit another home run.”
Denard’s solo home run flew over the left-field fence, deep into the Native Americans’ sweat lodge area, to close the Barons’ lead 3-2 in the third. Terrell’s two-run homer soared over the right-field fence in the fifth, bouncing off the education bungalows, to take the lead 5-3.
The Barons scored three quick runs in the first inning, including a homer from first-time visitor Zach Mandelblah, who smashed a fastball over the right-field fence. After that, the A’s defense and pitching clamped down for the remainder of the game. The Barons scored for the last time in the fifth.
“It feels good to have the outside people coming in and not just seeing us as inmates,” Denard said. “It’s a privilege to play this game here. It was a blessing to be transferred here for this program. The unity among the A’s and Giants (teams) was incredible.”
The baseball program experienced a few ups and downs during the course of the season because of some game cancellations and a shortage of bats.
“It was a very difficult season, every which way you can think of,” said Elliot Smith, volunteer sponsor. “However, we did have a season and any time you can play baseball in prison like this is a good thing.
“I thank all the volunteers, players and teams that came in. I look forward to having a successful season next year,” Smith continued.
Barons’ Anthony Gonzales said, “We have to remember this program is about humanity. San Quentin is a part of our society, too, and these guys are our neighbors. You just can’t turn your back on your neighbors. Through baseball these guys learn to deal with setbacks, communication skills, and to work as a team. We should take the time out of our lives and make contact through this game.”
Mandelblah added, “I grew up in a more affluent community and this gave me a chance to meet different people. This was a unique experience, plus I had a chance to play a game I love.”
A’s first-year Head Coach inmate Eddie Hollingsworth concluded, “It’s good to see convicts and outside people coming together to play a game we loved as kids. As a team we might have disagreed at times but we didn’t separate. Some of our players matured, some stayed neutral, and some just stayed the same, but the one thing they did do, they were always professional.”