The most effective grounds crew in the county came from the sky Tuesday.
Pinecrest baseball coach Ryan Weingart and King’s Ridge’s Dallas McPherson couldn’t stand the thought of canceling the restart of Monday’s game, which was stopped after 4 1/3 innings by a downpour, but despite sunny weather Pinecrest’s field still had not drained sufficiently from the night prior.
Pregame deliberating had come to a standstill when the coaches opened ears to a parent of a King’s Ridge player, who eventually called in a helicopter to hover over and dry off the playing surface.
“It was definitely one the crazier things I’ve seen,” Weingart said. “It ended up working well. We were one of the few teams in the region that got a game in.”
When McPherson was reached for comment he told the Forsyth County News the pilot of the helicopter did not want his identity disclosed.
“The group responsible doesn’t want any credit, blame or publicity off of it and wish to remain anonymous,” McPherson said in a text message to the FCN. “I will say we have some great supporters of the baseball program here and the school as a whole and are truly blessed to have such great people associated with our program.”
The helicopter, labeled with the identification number “N32HX,” is an Airbus AS-350B3 A-Star owned and operated by Helicopter Express, a multi-service helicopter provider based in Chamblee, Ga.
Helicopter Express lists aerial firefighting, disaster relief, aerial production, aerial crane lifting, charters, heli-skiing and utility patrol as services. Helicopter Express’ chief operating officer Richie Kittrell did not return phone calls regarding the event as of press time.
According to Forsyth County ordinance enforcement, there are no regulations in the county that would prevent the described usage of the aircraft.
Pinecrest lost the contest to the defending state champions, 13-2, which was a disappointing result to an otherwise amusing afternoon. The Paladins led 2-1 against King’s Ridge on Monday and needed just two outs to secure a huge victory—one that would have helped their status in the Class A Power Ratings —before torrential rain forced them off the field.
“It was a bummer that it turned out that way,” Weingart said.
Within 24 hours, the helicopter was spotted again, drying off Kings’ Ridge home field, American Legion Field in Alpharetta, evident in a photo posted by the team’s Twitter account.
Coaches in the county have been in a bind with rescheduling games due to inclement weather. West Forsyth and Lambert have twice postponed their first match up of the season due to rain and poor field conditions. Those two teams will finally meet Monday.
Pinecrest plays today at 5 p.m. at Whitefield.