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Atwater to get taste of semi-pro baseball

Is Atwater ready for its own semi-pro baseball team? That question could be answered Friday night when residents get a chance to take in a semi-pro game — for free! — at Firemen's Memorial Ball Park.

The game starts at 7 p.m. but gates open at 6:15 p.m. for fans who want to watch the Merced Volunteers and Clovis Outlaws warm up.

San Jose resident Richard Ruiz wants to start a semi-pro team in Atwater. He's putting on the game to gauge local interest in semi-pro ball. It's also a chance to see how neighbors react to the crowds and noise such games could attract. Ruiz said he’s hoping this Friday’s match-up draws about 300 or 400 to the 1,100-seat Firemen's Memorial Ball Park.