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SUZETTE COOK/Alachua County Today

Rain interupted the 2015 World Series and forced games to move from Hal Brady Rec Complex in Alachua to Newberry's Champions Park.

ALACHUA – City of Alachua Recreation Director Hal Brady remembers the 1992 Babe Ruth World Series competition well because he said at least 20 inches of rain fell in less than a week.

The 61 teams who arrived in Alachua County to compete in the 2015 Babe Ruth World Series soon found out, that Brady wasn’t exaggerating. The teams faced persistent rain, lightening and flooding of fields but managed to battle through and play out their contests.

 And even though it may have felt like it, no record rainfall was measured during the July 31-Aug. 4 event  said WUFT Meteorologist Jeff Huffman.

 “No records have been set by the recent rain in our area that I’m aware of, but on Monday evening there were reports that as many as five inches fell in a three hour time…over two separate areas of the county (SW Gainesville and near Waldo).”

 “The recent flooding along the Nature Coast has been caused by a persistent area of low pressure sitting just offshore in the Gulf of Mexico,” Huffman added. “Thankfully, satellite and radar data has confirmed that it is finally moving to the northeast, and a more typical Florida summer weather pattern will ensue by midweek.”

 Back up plans went into effect early on in the series when teams scheduled to play in Alachua at the Hal Brady Recreation Complex were bussed down to Newberry’s Champions Park.

 Players and coaches said they had to make adjustment to the slick turf on the fields in Newberry often sliding sooner than usual to catch the bases.

“Best fields we ever played on,” said one coach about the Newberry diamonds. “Ten minutes after the weather, you can get right back out and play.”

Coach Jacques Harris of Gainesville Fast Pitch team said it was the delays that made this tournament difficult for his team.

“They cancelled all the games on Saturday,” he said. “Or there would be a 2-hour delay, 4-hour delay. His team made it to the last day losing to JPR West, the team from Jefferson Parish, Louisiana that went on to win the series in a game that played until 1:30 a.m. on the championship field in Alachua.

For the ground crew back at the fields in Alachua, they played their own game against the rain, rolling, tarping, spreading Turface and Game Saver to absorb water.

“We’ve been in a holding pattern the whole time,” said Coach Bob Bocock from Hamilton New Jersey. “It’s just been raining constantly.

“Some of them are playable and there are some puddles,” said his daughter Pitcher Becca Bocock of the 12U team about the fields.

Alachua sat empty all day on Aug. 4, until the championship game got to take the field.

 JPRD West (Jefferson Parish, Louisiana) took the World Series win away from Mount Olive in 6 to 3 contest.

The other contest winners were 8U: Mannasa, Virginia, 10U: Pitt County, 12U: JPRD East, 14U: JPRD West.  

John Parrish, task force member for Babe Ruth headquarters was holding down the empty fort in flooded Alachua on Tuesday as games played out in Newberry.

“We moved 12U to the turf fields because they drain faster,” he said.

“You don’t plan for a tropical depression to sit on top of you,” he said about this year’s series. “It’s one thing to have an afternoon thunderstorm blow out the fields and then we resume that night and play late. But we had three days of straight rain and you just do the best you can with it.”

While photographers from Glossy Finish wrapped gear in aqua tent bags or garbage bags and rubber bands at fields in Newberry, ground crew members and volunteers were raking water and rolling wet clay in Alachua.

“Thank God between the Newberry facility and ours,” Brady said.

Anthony Tucci, state commissioner for Babe Ruth Soft Ball in Pennsylvania played the role of meteorologist throughout the tournaments .

He had a screen tied in to a staff of meteorologists and monitored the rain and lightning.

“Meteorologists will give us an advance warning and they call us off the field,” he said. “We have their app through Weather Bug.

“Any time we get lighting within 10 miles of the complex we pull them off the field for 30 minutes.”

“We had a lot of weather,” Tucci said about the 2015 series.

“A lot of delays…in trying to facilitate games, we decreased time, limiting games to an hour and 15 minutes, our umpire crews have turned games , kept them moving along.”