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Play ball!

Hamilton (OH) - Any coach knows it's good to have a deep bench.

It's just as true in the arts as it is in sports.

So when the National Anthem guest singer for Fitton Center Night at the Hamilton Joes baseball game July 23 came up sick Sunday morning, Executive Director Ian MacKenzie-Thurley had no trouble sending a pinch hitter to the Foundation Field plate.

The fact it was his wife - noted jazz singer and voice teacher Kelly MacKenzie-Thurley, fresh off a sold-out engagement at Basil 1791 a few nights earlier - might have made that substitution a little easier than most.

Kelly's brisk, stirring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner paved the way for the recently named new Hamilton High School varsity head baseball coach Josh Sams to deliver the ceremonial first pitch.

Those two Hamilton High grads gave way to the Hamilton Joes, who took a star turn of their own.

The Southern Ohio Copperheads struck first, scoring an unearned run in the first inning. But the Joes jumped to a 3-1 lead in the bottom half and never looked back.

Hamilton exploded for seven runs in the third and cruised to a 15-5 mercy-rule win in eight innings.

The victory clinched a spot in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate Baseball League playoffs for the Joes (21-16), who close out the regular season Monday, July 24, at home against the Grand Lake Mariners (19-18). Hamilton has a chance to win the South Division outright with a win Monday and a loss by the co-leading Xenia Scouts.

Please enjoy some more photos from the game below.

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