Mustangs have a blast in Connie Mack World Series appearance

Posted Monday, Aug. 05, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Farmington, N.M., is a town of about 45,000 people. It’s nestled near the Four Corners region of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah.

But every first week of August, it becomes the home to one of the most intense weeks of amateur baseball – the AABC Connie Mack World Series. The 44th edition is taking place there this week.

So when former Grapevine standouts Connor McGuire and Zach Kornely, members of the Texas Stix, rode in on the chartered bus from Albuquerque last Thursday, the pomp and circumstance caught them off guard.

A police escort greeted the bus on the outskirts of town. People lined the main drag cheering, waiving and screaming their welcomes. Opening ceremonies were held last Friday at Ricketts Field. Crowds of 5,000-6,000 were expected to attend each night of the 10-team double-elimination tournament.

“I soaked in every part of it,” McGuire. “I wish could describe it better, but you have you see it to understand. It’s unreal. Obviously, your main focus was to win games. But the experience is something I’m never going to forget.”

McGuire (6-0, 180), a third baseman, and Kornely (6-3, 185), a right-handed pitcher, who helped the Mustangs to the District 6-5A championship and an appearance in the Class 5A Region I quarterfinals, are headed to McClennan Community College in Waco to continue their baseball careers. They could have started earlier had it not been for some heroic work at the AABC regional tournament two weeks ago at TCU and Dallas Baptist.

The Stix lost its first game in the double-elimination tournament and had to win five consecutive games just to get to Farmington. That performance pretty much duplicated what happened at the state tournament in Grand Prairie the week prior. Unfortunately, The Stix’ stay was short, as it lost both of its games this past Saturday and Sunday and was eliminated.

“You can tell what a big deal this is,” Kornely said. “Our team has never qualified for it, so it was an honor to make some history. When people asked me where we from, I told them Texas. And they thought it was another team (DBat). But they have been real supportive.”

The summer schedule benefited both players. Kornely signed with McClennan back in February. The constant work on his craft has helped him develop his change up to where it is more of an effective pitch.

“I throw it about 40 percent of the time,” he said. “I worked with my coaches on how I drag my back (right) big toe. I can throw it in fastball counts.”

McGruire began the summer without a place to place and opportunities appeared slim. But when there was a coaching change over the summer, connections helped McGuire to get a chance to go try out. After that, he signed a letter of intent.

It isn’t clear where he will play. It could be infield or outfield. Either way, it doesn’t matter. He still gets to play.

In the meantime, the experience of spending the week in a modest but down-to-earth community that loves its amateur baseball carried its own significance.

“It’s still about taking care of business and giving it our all,” Kornely said. “But when kids come up to you and ask you to sign their baseball, that’s pretty cool too.”

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