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Pool rescue unfolds amid World Series drama

08/10/2007, 5:55pm EDT
By Ray Cox

A mother who just consoled her heartsick 9-year-old approached Mike Goforth after his Virginia team had twice come from behind to send her son's squad back to Tennessee earlier this week at baseball's Dixie Minors World Series.

"I'm with the team ya'll just beat," she said, "and I just wanted to tell you that you have a such a nice team. They're so positive, congratulating our players on good plays, so nice. So are your coaches."

"Thank you very much," said Goforth, whose pint-sized pitchers and swatters had just prevailed 9-7. "That means so much to us."

The mother probably didn't even know about the nice job of volunteering the coach, his wife, Tracy, and other heroes from Blacksburg had pulled off before the first base hit fell at the four-field Madison Heights Series complex to start the week.

In action now widely celebrated, the two Goforths dived into the murky waters of a Lynchburg Ramada Inn pool to pull a near-death 12-year-old from North Carolina to safety Sunday. Ashore was Norman Croy, a Blacksburg volunteer firefighter and Montgomery County sheriff's lieutenant, and Chris Lucas, also a Montgomery County deputy. Croy's son Caden is one of Virginia's pitchers. Lucas' son Aaron is an alternate. Ethan Goforth is the team's catcher and all-purpose igniter.

"I've been doing this for a while," said Chris Lucas, one of the team's coaches. "When they brought that kid over the wall, he wasn't in good shape at all."

Mike Goforth, who by day is the chief athletic trainer for Virginia Tech, and Croy tag-teamed CPR on the young athlete (Travis Oliver played for the North Carolina team). The youngster was rushed to the University of Virginia Medical Center where a respirator and some expert care were just what the doctor ordered. He'll live to take another summertime swim the next time, if he is so moved.

The Blacksburgers took a 2-1 record into a losers' bracket game with South Carolina as the tournament continued Thursday evening. Blacksburg, one of the last six teams after the original field was halved, must assemble a minimum three-game winning streak to have a chance at the big trophy. Looming in the distance are powerhouses from Texas and Alabama, the latter of which belted three home runs in whomping Blacksburg 12-0 in the opener.

"Through the regular season, through the district tournament, through the state tournament, we never saw a home run," said Don Gresh, president of Blacksburg Baseball Association, "and they hit three in one game."

Big deal. Blacksburg boys are smallball experts. Ethan Goforth's splendidly executed first baseline-hugging squeeze was a key blow in his team's four-run sixth inning uprising against Tennessee.

"Not my favorite play," said Goforth, who did a nimble two-step to give the appearance of missing the ball and the automatic out on his rush to first base, "but I'll do what the team needs."

Pulling through in times of crisis is apparently a skill he learned at home.

Tag(s): 2007  News