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Kane vs. Gesa Stadium ends briefly but memorable battle

I was looking forward to watching an ongoing battle between Kane Simmons and quirky confines of Gesa Stadium, but that excitement turned out to be as fleeting as a shooting star.

To put it more succinctly: Now you see him, now you don’t.

The Colorado Rockies moved the left-handed slugger up the ladder to High-A Modesto, giving him a surprising jump past Low-A Asheville.

Fans should be happy for Simmons, who nearly gave up on the sport after not getting drafted following his senior year at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., in 2007. If he keeps driving in runs the way he has, he may realize his dream of reaching the majors even sooner than he imagined.

Either way, from what Dust Devils fans were able to see, our loss is Modesto’s gain.

Simmons, 24, drove in seven runs in five games in a Tri-City uniform, but he also managed to launch two of the more memorable shots at Gesa Stadium this year.

The first was in his first home appearance during a 6-1 win over Vancouver last Friday, when he turned on a 2-1 fastball from Canadians reliever Trey Barham and sent it deep into the Pasco night.

He told me with a smile after the game that he’s never been more sure of a ball going out of the park than that one.

Therein lies the irony. That ball came off the bat like a dragster coming off the line. But once it hit the stiff wind coming in from right, that’s when it’s chute opened, and it hit about 10 feet up the rightfield wall.

Simmons said that he’s not one to lapse into a home-run trot, but he was ready for a nice leisurely jog around the bases until he saw it bounce.

He still got a two-run double out of it. Round 1 to Gesa Stadium.

Two nights later, he hit one just as hard off Vancouver starter Shawn Haviland with only a slight breeze blowing from right to left.

No doubt about this one. Score it a fifth-inning knockout for Simmons, a Tennessee-raised blond with enough natural strength to carry a name like ‘Kane’.

Incidentally, I learned that Mr. Simmons and I have a little something in common — we share the first name ‘Thomas’ but we both go by our middle name.

So far, Darin Holcomb (12 homers in 2007) and Joe Koshansky (12 in 2004) have been the only Dust Devils player to come close to taming the walls of Gesa Stadium, which was built in 1995.

Now, we’ll never know if Simmons would have been up to the task.

We’ll call it a draw, leaving Gesa Stadium’s reputation safe once again.