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PREP BASEBALL: Dream scenario for North's Sanchez brothers (5/27)

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By Chuck Jones

North Hardin’s Jordan and Gardy Sanchez never thought they’d have this opportunity. Separated by three years in school, they always held out hope they might be able to play together, but time was running out.

Jordan is in his final year and Gardy is only a freshman. While Jordan was the starting third baseman when the season began, Gardy began the year playing on the freshman and junior varsity teams. But midway through the season after coming in as a defensive replacement, Gardy was given an opportunity to start.

Now, the brothers share the left side of the infield with Jordan at third and Gardy at shortstop. It’s fulfilled a dream both of them had in common, playing alongside each other.

“It’s been a pleasure,” Gardy said. “Having him be a senior and getting to play with him, it’s been a great experience. He’s been able to talk to me during games and that’s been best.”

What’s made it even more enjoyable for the Sanchez brothers, whose father (Edgardo) played minor league ball in the New York Mets system, is the Trojans are playing in the 5th Region Baseball Tournament for the first time since winning it in 2006.

“It’s been a dream come true,” Jordan said. “I always thought I get the opportunity to play with my older brother, but to play with him, it’s been exciting. It’s been really special to play with him, play in a district championship and get to go to region. I can’t put it into words.

“You dream of things,” he added. “When you look up and you get the chance to play with your brother and get to the region tournament, it’s out of this world.”

The Sanchezes are difference in their appearance and how they play the game.

Jordan, who transferred from Fort Knox after his sophomore season, is a 5-foot-6, 170-pound right-handed hitter. He is hitting .308 with a team-best 10 doubles. He has been hit by a team-leading 15 pitches, which is one of reasons his on-base percentage is .442.

“His averaged has jumped probably 80 points from last year,” said North Hardin coach Ace Adcock. “He put a lot of time in on his own working on it. He’s keeping his front foot in and driving the ball. He’s a compact guy and he can put it in the gaps.”

After hitting only .226 last season, Jordan said the main difference isn’t with his swing as much as in his head.

“I came from a place where you had to be your best every day and you still might not win,” Jordan said. “I’m relaxed at the plate. I’ve worked a lot with Coach (Jason) Abell. I didn’t change anything. I’m not thinking as much. I’m just more relaxed.”

Jordan split time between second and third last season. This year, Adcock put him at third and kept him there. Although Jordan’s made 13 errors, Adcock said his senior has been rock-solid.

“It wasn’t that hard moving to third,” Jordan said. “The ball gets to you faster. That’s about the only difference.”

Adcock said Jordan has matured as player. Jordan admitted he had a tendency to pout when he’d make a mistake in the field or didn’t get a hit last year. He has learned how to handle those things better this season.

“He has really grown up in his two years here,” Adcock said. “He has played a lot of baseball. He knows the game well. But he would get down on himself and hang his head. He wears his emotions on his sleeve. Baseball is a game of failure. It’s how you take failure and turn it into a positive the next time you get a chance. And he’s done a much better job of that this year.”

While Jordan is compact player who packs a pop, Gardy is a 5-8, 115-pound slick-fielding switcher-hitter. He is hitting .250 with 10 runs and five RBIs. He doesn’t have an extra-base hit in 40 at-bats.

Although his hitting is still developing, Gardy’s glove looks like a seasoned veteran. He showcased his skills in the district tournament, making several difficult plays in North Hardin’s 5-1 win over Elizabethtown.

“Gardy is a special player for his age,” Adcock said. “He has such a good understanding of the game. Gardy is more of a finesse player. His hands are terrific. What he lacks in arm strength, he makes up for it with his hands and his quick release.”

Adcock tried several players at shortstop before going to Gardy. After seeing him make play after play when he put him in late in games, Adcock said the coaching staff was convinced he was ready to handle the job on a full-time basis.

“At first, I was not expecting to play (varsity),” Gardy said. “They gave me a look at shortstop. When I first got out there, I was nervous and a little anxious. But I took the opportunity and ran with it. It’s been really great.”

While the brothers might be different in some ways, there is one thing they share: both want to win.

“We both have that competitive edge,” Gardy said. “We’re so focused during a game. If we make a mistake, you have to forget about it. It’s about making the next play to help the team win. Winning is the only thing that matters.”

The Trojans face a tough task in today’s region quarterfinal matchup with Green County, which could pitch senior and Ohio State-bound Brennen Milby. No matter what happens, though, this season has already been a success to the Sanchez family.

“It’s been unforgettable,” Jordan said. “We have grown so much as a team. We are right where we wanted to be. It’s been a dream come true.”

Chuck Jonescan be reached at (270) 505-1759 or cjones@thenewsenterprise.com.