FORT MYERS, Fla. - It was the matchup that was scheduled to happen but did not.
Sumter High School graduate Charles Barnes was scheduled to start for the Fort Myers Miracle on May 10 against the Tampa Tarpons in an Advanced Single-A Florida State …
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Sumter High School graduate Charles Barnes was scheduled to start for the Fort Myers Miracle on May 10 against the Tampa Tarpons in an Advanced Single-A Florida State League game. His opponent on the mound in the nightcap of the doubleheader was scheduled to be Wilson Hall product John Patrick "JP" Sears. However, inclement weather shut it down.
It would have been the first time the 23-year-old left-handers pitched against each other in high school to professional ball, Barnes said.
However, when the first game was suspended because of rain until May 11, Sears was assigned to finish that game. Barnes remained the scheduled starter of the second game on May 11.
"Obviously when I thought we were playing and I was hoping it would happen, that'd be pretty cool to throw against someone we grew up playing with from when we were T-ball up until high school," said Barnes, a member of the Minnesota Twins organization.
"I checked to see when he was pitching after I found out when I was pitching," said Sears, a member of the New York Yankees organization. "I knew there was a good chance we would be facing each other. It would have been fun to go up against Charlie."
While there was anticipation for the matchup on their parts, Barnes and Sears didn't have any contact with one another prior to the scheduled matchup.
"You want to keep it business like," Sears said. "We would have talked to one another after it was all over if we would have pitched against each other."
"I didn't want to talk to him too much before," Barnes said. "I knew we were both trying to get ready and prepare for what we had to do the next day."
In the resumption of the suspended game, Sears earned his first victory for Tampa. He allowed one hit in a scoreless 2 1/3 innings of relief. He was in the dugout to watch Barnes take the mound in the second game.
Barnes did not watch Sears, though. "I was inside (the clubhouse) getting ready, going over some scouting reports, stretching and getting ready," he said. "If it was a full game, I would have stayed out for the first couple, but with it only being two innings, I didn't have time to stay out."
Barnes allowed one hit in lasting one inning, however, because he was ejected for the first time ever. He helped get the third out by picking off a runner trying to reach third base, then asked the umpire about an earlier pickoff that resulted in the same runner being called safe at second. At that point, Fort Myers manager Toby Gardenhire had gone onto the field to discuss the safe call with the umpire.
"I was more surprised. I think it was more of a misunderstanding. I'm not sure if he heard something different. I just asked a question. I didn't swear or anything," Barnes said. "I didn't mean anything disrespectful."
Sears and Barnes were not able to talk before the games in the series because rain cancelled batting practices, where opposing players often greet one another. The rain and Miracle activities kept them from talking after games as well.
Since that day, Barnes has been promoted to the Minnesota Twins' Double-A affiliate in Pensacola, Florida. Barnes had a 3-2 win-loss record in eight starts, but owned a 6.51 earned run average. In 37 1/3 innings of work, Barnes allowed 42 hits while walking 20 against 35 strikeouts.
"Early on I was off a little with my direction," Barnes said prior to his promotion. "Just fix the direction, and everything will start to fall back into place."
Barnes has no record in two starts with Pensacola. He gave up no earned runs in five innings in his first start and four earned runs in five innings in the second start.
Miracle pitching coach Luis Ramirez said Barnes has addressed the flaw during bullpens between starts.
"He's missing arm side a lot with the fastball and the changeup. We already made an adjustment, and I think he should be fine for the time being," he said. "Still a little bit of inconsistency in the game."
Sears is 3-2 with a 3.49 ERA for Tampa. In 28 1/3 innings covering seven appearances, he has 29 strikeouts against just eight walks.
Sears said it has been an up-and-down season for him so far.
"I've had some good things go my way, and I've had some things not so good go my way," he said. "I'll have a couple of good outings, then I'll have a couple of outings where I'm not so good.
"I've been pretty average so far. We've got the all-star break coming up, and I hope to have a good start going into it and then pick it up after the break."
Dennis Brunson contributed to this story.
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