Leadoff hitter ties Rock Bridge baseball's stolen base record

Thursday, May 2, 2013 | 9:53 p.m. CDT; updated 11:24 p.m. CDT, Thursday, May 2, 2013

COLUMBIA — Last week in a game against Kirksville, Rock Bridge leadoff hitter Joe Barbee reached first base one steal shy of tying the school's single-season record. 

Barbee watched the next batter, Mike Nemec, take a few pitches before being thrown a curveball that dove down and in. As the pitcher lifted his leg, Barbee raced for second and stood on the base safely as the pitch bounced to the right of the catcher. 

Just one thing, though. The pitch hit Nemec in the foot, meaning Barbee was safe, but not credited with a stolen base. 

"That hit you?" he asked Nemec in between innings. "That was my record!"

Five games later Barbee got his record, stealing his 17th base of the season Thursday in a 13-3 win over Holt.

In a game that featured seven stolen bases, it was the most trivial one that made the biggest splash. Barbee's record-setting steal came in the first inning on a first pitch fastball. 

Despite the spotty rain Thursday, the base paths on the field were dry thanks to Rock Bridge's tarp. This gave players a hard surface to run on, and kept the infield from getting muddy. 

"It was so dry. We put the tarp on yesterday afternoon and it needed water bad," Bruins coach Justin Towe said. "It's really not bad right now either."

Barbee, who plays right field and is also a slot receiver for the football team, said he wasn't pressing to get his record, despite his antics with Nemec.

"I tried not to think about it because I knew if I thought about it, it wouldn't come that fast," Barbee said. "I just kind of let it happen"

It's been a good week for the combination of Rock Bridge and records. Tuesday, Bruins cleanup hitter Jansen Smith set a new school mark for RBIs in a season with 42. He added to that with a run-scoring walk Thursday. 

Barbee, a sophomore, has four regular season games before the district tournament to set the record outright. He has only been caught once on the bases this season.

Three other Bruins have stolen 17 bases in a season, most recently Brad Troyer in 2011.

Supervising editor is Grant Hodder.

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