June 19, 2009
Philip Tice was back on his home turf Thursday night.
But the New Hope High School rising senior is showing more and more people that he is at home whenever and wherever there is a baseball diamond.
Tice arrived home about 4 a.m. Thursday with the rest of his teammates who represented the state of Mississippi at the Junior Sunbelt Classic in McAlester, Okla.
Mississippi went 5-5 and beat Missouri to finish fifth in the 10-team tournament, which featured some of the top juniors from eight states and one team from Canada.
"It was a good experience," Tice said. "I had 10 hits (in 19 or 20 at-bats). I didn''t do good in the field, but I made up for it at the bat."
Tice said many of his teammates stayed with him at his grandmother''s house when they returned to Lowndes County. He said they slept until 9 or 10 a.m. before the players'' parents came and picked them up.
Tice said the pitching wasn''t as overpowering as he expected it would be. He said pitchers from Arizona, Georgia, and Tennessee were throwing in the high 80s and low 90s, which suited him just fine.
"I like fast pitching," Tice said. "I don''t think (I made an impression). Maybe I did."
Tice''s effort Thursday left a lasting impression on his uniform.
He went 3-for-4 with three RBIs in game one and added two more hits in game two.
Defensively, he switched from second base to catcher in game two and had the pleasure of catching knuckleballer Jake Upton.
Tice spent most of the middle innings lunging in the dirt to keep Upton''s darting pitches in front of him. The layers of dirt on Tice''s baseball pants showed he had success even without a lot of sleep, but he wouldn''t have been anywhere else.
"It was hard," Tice said. "I had never seen anything like it. I have seen it drop at second base and I thought, ''That ain''t that bad.'' But when I got back there I had to buckle down."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.