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For ol' times' sake
Y.C., Marysville meet in alumni game
It's been 13 years since Dusty Decker threw off the mound at Winship Field.
In 1999, he was one of Yuba City High's top arms, helping the Honkers make a deep run in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I postseason.
That team began a run of 11 playoff appearances for the program in the past 13 seasons.
On Saturday, Decker, now the Honkers' pitching coach, wasn't facing the same pressure he did as a flame-throwing 18-year-old — he just wanted to throw a strike.
"I haven't been on the mound in 10 years," Decker said. "When you throw batting practice from 40 feet and you back up 20 more feet, it feels like you're a mile away."
Decker struck out two batters in a solid inning of work as 38 former ballplayers from both Yuba City and Marysville High faced off in an alumni game to raise money for both programs.
Yuba City won 10-1, but the final score was merely a sidenote in a game filled with camaraderie between players, some of which hadn't seen each other since high school.
Decker, who played Division-I baseball with both Pepperdine and Sacramento State, said it's good to know so many alumni want to support both programs.
"It feels good to be part of this program, the program that brought me up and pushed me on to the next level," Decker said. "I'm very proud to be back."
So was Jeremy Cook, a 1996 Yuba City High graduate, who played college ball at San Diego State before spending six seasons in the St. Louis Cardinals farm system, reaching as high as Double-A.
He showed there's still some life in his right arm, tallying a couple strikeouts. He received a big-time assist for the third out of the inning, courtesy of current Yuba City assistant coach Shea Davis, who made a highlight-reel play at shortstop.
Cook may need some ibuprofen today for his arm and back, but said being back at his old stomping grounds makes him appreciate what this program did for him.
"This is a great way to not only support Yuba City, but the entire area and the baseball community," Cook said. "This is definitely something I'll put on my calendar every year."
Marysville alum Bret Barrie has been on both sides of this friendly rivalry.
A 1999 graduate of Marysville, he spent four years in the Indians baseball program before moving on to play D-I ball at Pacific. He's spent the last seven years as a coach with Yuba City.
Barrie, who caught nine innings on Saturday for Marysville, won't have much time to rest as his adult league in Rancho Cordova commences its season today.
"It's just a lot of fun to see all the people you haven't seen in a long time," Barrie said. "A lot of us grew up either playing with or against each other so it's a pretty good game to do every year."
Yuba City coach Dave Rodriguez also has ties to both programs, a big reason why he wanted to start this event.
Rodriguez was Marysville's head man from 2002-04 and took over the Honkers last summer.
With budgets cuts in education adversely affecting athletics, Rodriguez said he hopes this alumni game between the two programs becomes a yearly tradition.
"This is a community event and we have a lot of good guys on both sides," Rodriguez said. "A lot of these guys know the condition the schools are in (financially) and they love their programs. They care about their programs so they understand this is for a good cause."
CONTACT Jimmy Graben at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4791. Find him on Facebook at advarsitysports or on Twitter at @ADjgraben