Carter Young stepped up to the plate in the sixth inning a double shy of hitting for the cycle. After taking a strike, the Lee’s Summit West junior sent a ball sailing into right field ...
... and over the wall for a two-run homer.
“I was hoping it would hit the fence and not go over,” Young said. “But I’ll take a home run. I’m not going to be disappointed about that.”
Young’s homer was his second of the game and it brought an end to West’s 10-0 victory against Raymore-Peculiar in the seventh annual Strike Out Cancer Game at West. It also made for a special day for Young, even if he didn’t complete the cycle.
“My grandpa had cancer at one time,” Young said after going 4 for 4 with four RBIs. “I’m giving him one of the home run balls today to let him know I was thinking about him.”
Young’s story is like many on both teams during the annual event to raise money and awareness for the fight against cancer. West coach Jay Meyer and Ray-Pec coach Gary Renshaw both have wives who are cancer survivors, which inspired them to turn one of their two games each year into a fundraiser that has raised thousands of dollars through the years.
The proceeds from this year’s game, including a silent auction and 50-50 raffle, are going to the Children’s Mercy Cancer Center. Dr. John David Nolen, a clinical pathologist at Children’s Mercy Hospital, spoke to the crowd after a balloon release and moment of silence to honor those taken by or fighting cancer.
“Everyone has some connection, some story or friend (battling cancer),” Meyer said. “It’s still a great ballgame and when it comes time to play ball we lock in and take care of business.”
That includes West starter Trevor Kardell, who threw one of the ceremonial first pitches to his mother, Jill, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. Now a cancer survivor, Jill Kardell said events like Strike Out Cancer are a big help financially and emotionally to others fighting the disease.
“This is awesome,” Kardell said. “This is the first time I’ve actually been involved in this and I’m just amazed with all the support we’ve had from everybody.”
Meyer didn’t pick Trevor Kardell to start because it was the Strike Out Cancer game. It was just his turn in the lineup, but the sophomore right-hander responded by holding the Panthers to two hits and two walks with five strikeouts during four scoreless innings.
“I was definitely motivated to throw the best that I’ve thrown,” Kardell said. “I was going to pump strikes as long as I could and get the team the innings that they needed.”
Kardell had to wiggle out of a jam in the third inning when Ray-Pec loaded the bases with a walk and two singles with two outs. He got Zach Gwynne to swing at a high pitch for a checked-swing third strike and it was smooth sailing after that.
“I wasn’t hitting my spots,” said Kardell, who was removed after the fourth inning due to his pitch count. “I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to do, but I just took a moment and relaxed.”
West was only up 1-0 at the time thanks to Young’s solo homer in the first. The left-handed hitter smacked an RBI-triple in the third then singled and scored on a triple by Kardell during a two-run fifth as the Titans built a 6-0 lead.
“He’s seeing the ball really well,” Meyer said. “He’s made great adjustments at the plate. When you have talent and you see the ball well, it’s just infectious.”
Young’s second homer capped a four-run sixth inning, which included Sammy Cooper’s two-run double. Had Young doubled, Meyer said Young would have been the first player he’s had complete a cycle since 2000 when he was the head coach at Truman.
Still, quite a special day though for Young and everybody else who played. He was sorry his grandfather couldn’t make it and experience it for himself.
“Next year, if I get this opportunity, I would love for him to come,” Young said.