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Base-stealing Techman earns an all-state spot

After Pier Park tourney, Gerry Jones wants to walk on at ASU

When the Class 4A all-state baseball team was named, Gerry Jones could hardly believe he was on it.

The Benson outfielder joined pitching aces Dallas Buck of state champion Newberg and Kevin Gunderson of Central Catholic and others on the squad picked by the state's coaches.

Before the season, Jones had told his mother that honor would come his way, but this was still a shock.

'It made me feel cocky,' he says. 'But I was kind of cocky before that, too.'

Jones hit. 390 and stole 29 bases for the Techmen, who improved to 6-10 after going 2-14 in Portland Interscholastic League play in 2002. His stolen base total, believed to be the highest in the state, set him apart.

The 5-10, 165-pound Jones, who played center field for Benson, hopes to make it as a walk-on, nonscholarship player at Arizona State, a perennial national title contender.

'I'm realistic about Arizona State É that it's a dream,' he says. 'But I think I can make it happen. I made all-state, and no one would have believed that but me.'

Jones, who graduated with a 3.0 grade-point average, has been accepted to ASU and plans to study electrical engineering.

This summer, he is doing maintenance work at the Madeline School in Northeast Portland and playing games on a Big League baseball team, the oldest age group in the Little League organization. Jones' team is the defending state champion and includes players from Benson, Grant, Franklin and Central Catholic.

The Big League state tournament is this weekend at Pier Park. If Jones' team wins, it will go to the regional tourney July 26-30 in Billings, Mont.

Jones fell in love with ASU last year while his Big League team was finishing second in the West regional, played in Scottsdale, Ariz., just miles from campus.

Benson coach Rob Herder says Jones

isn't just a one-dimensional, base-stealing fiend.

'He didn't have the green light to steal every time,' Herder says. 'We used the hit-and-run a lot, things designed to help our hitters and move the runner along. When he did go, though, he rarely got caught.'

Jones was thrown out just twice.

Jones might have been less of a surprise to make the all-state team had his junior year gone better. After one midseason loss, Herder walked away and told the players to talk among themselves. Jones stepped up and lashed out at his teammates.

'I remember I told the guys, 'We'd win more games if there were nine of me playing,' ' he says. 'I did terrible after that because I was trying to live up to that statement.'

Jones' boasting helped motivate Benson's younger players, though. Will Jones, no relation, says he initially laughed when he heard Gerry Jones' comments. But 'he motivated me to try harder,' says Will, who batted .345 and was the second-team all-PIL catcher last season as a junior. 'He inspired me.'

Gerry Jones says if he can't get into the ASU baseball program, he probably will play for Mt. Hood Community College. For now, though, he is living the dream.

'Now that I'm all-state, I believe in myself more,' he says. 'And that's what you need to play for a school like Arizona State.'