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Corpus Christi Caller-Times


DEER PARK — Saturday evening was your typical night in Southeast Texas. It was sunny and muggy.

Ballpark nachos with cheese and jalapenos, a song of "Woop! Woop!" from the stands and the sounds of bats connecting with baseballs.

The only difference was the team on the visitor's side of Jim Kethan Field was the Santa Fe High School Indians. And the day before, the deadliest school shooting in Texas history took place at their high school.

Seventeen-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis was arrested on suspicion of capital murder and assault of a police officer in connection with 10 deaths and 13 more wounded.

Two baseball players were in the art room and injured in the event: sophomore pitcher Rome Shubert and sophomore catcher Trenton Beazley. Both were in the dugout with their teammates Saturday night.

Santa Fe fell to Kingwood Park 7-0 in a regional quarterfinal game.

Even though the team lost friends and people they considered family just 36 hours before, they had no intention of not playing ball.

"I said what your decision is, I'm going to go with it," said Santa Fe head baseball coach Ronnie Wulf. "'You don't want to play, I'm good with that.' They were in there for a little, but they came out and they wanted to play."

The scene at the ballpark was much different than the vigil Friday night in Santa Fe.

Mayor-Elect Jason Tabor left a meeting Saturday with federal and state law enforcement to attend the baseball game. He said it was important for him to be there even if the incident is still being investigated.

"I wanted to come. I'm a Santa Fe graduate — it's still my school," Tabor said. "We're here, united together. We're Santa Fe Strong."

The strong showing at the game, from the parents in green and gold T-shirts to the supporting fans from neighboring communities such as La Porte, Clear Springs and Port Neches-Groves, is a perfect example of the kind of people that reside in the area, he said.

"We're resilient, and we will heal from all this," he said. "We're hurt, but not broken."

Though it was a loss, Saturday night offered a chance to begin healing.

The tragedy took a backseat to baseball for at least a few hours.

"I think the game helped the kids, the fans; it helped a lot of people," Wulf said. "Instead of just sitting and not doing anything. I'm proud of them for everything they've done all year long."

Twitter: @ReporterJulie

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May 21, 2018


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