June 25, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: South all-stars capture victory over North on a wild pitch in ninth inning

South all-stars and coach Jake Haney (far right) from Crean Lutheran before the game. Ryan Brucker of Woodbridge (second from right) and Tom Faris from Dana Hills (far left) were assistant coaches. (Photos: Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone).

The 56th edition of the Orange County All-Star Baseball game, with a new location and a different organization running it, had an exciting finish Wednesday night at the Great Park.

Crean Lutheran’s Sho Garcia scored on a wild pitch with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to help the South defeat the North 3-2. It was the first game held at the Great Park and first run by the Ryan Lemmon Foundation, which took over for the Kiwanis Club of Greater Anaheim which was unable to continue sponsorship.

Carter Danz (Corona del Mar) was named the South MVP, receiving the Irv Pickler Award while Justin Tillar (Cypress) was named the North MVP. Noah Neufeld (Laguna Beach) received the hustle award.

To see the slide show, click on the first photo:

In the ninth inning, Garcia led off with a walk and advanced to third on a base hit by Owen Faust (Tesoro).

Garcia then came home with Zach Doyle (San Juan Hills) at the plate and scored the game-winner on a wild pitch.

“It was super exciting, when I was on third I was super aggressive and I was pumped to put it all on the line and send it home, I saw it in the dirt and I was like, ‘I’m going on it,'” Garcia said. “But it was a great team win, everyone contributed and the competition was great tonight. I really loved that. There was no doubt, I saw the signs, I saw he was throwing a curveball and I was just jumping on it.”

Danz had his first double in the first inning to drive in Owen Faust (Tesoro) who singled with two outs. In the third inning, Danz doubled, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on another wild pitch to put the South ahead 2-0.

“We started out the game on the South side and we had to represent,” said Danz, who is headed to Northwestern to play baseball. “I just went up there trying to do damage and that’s what I did.”

The North, coached by El Modena’s Josh Kliner, cut the lead to 2-1 in the fifth inning. Andrew Olsen (Tustin) reached on a fielder’s choice and eventually came around to score on a wild pitch.

South pitchers Austin Plisinksi (San Juan Hills) and Keenan Anzai (Mission Viejo) held the North scoreless in the next two innings.

But in the top of the eighth, Tillar led off with a triple and scored on a groundout by Jacob Talbott (Yorba Linda) to tie the game 2-2.

Although the North came up a bit short on the scoreboard, Tillar still came away with fond memories.

“It’s a really special thing,” he said. “It’s carried deeply in my heart, starting off the game was a little rough but coming into that last at bat, you can’t take everything that happens prior, it’s every at bat. It’s just a great honor, there were a bunch of young and great guys who were in this game today and I’m just so grateful to be one of the ones who stood out.”

South Coach Jake Haney from Crean Lutheran was able to come out with a victory and enjoy the win with Garcia and Coach Haney’s son, Jackson Haney, who caught and narrowly missed beating out a couple infield hits.

“We got the win, we got everybody in and no one got hurt,” Jake Haney said. “And the guys had a blast. They had a lot of fun, it kind of started in the locker-room, there were some big personalities, but it’s an honor for them to play in the game. A lot of them don’t really know much about the game until they get here and they see, ‘wow, there have been a lot of big leaguers who have played in this game and it means a lot.’

“I think that kind of got their competitive fire going that they wanted to come out and play the game and do the best they could and try to win, and it was a heck of a game. That North team is super good and they have some really good arms. It was a tough night to hit, that’s for sure.”

Each team used nine pitchers. The South started with Wylan Moss (Mater Dei), who pitched a scoreless first inning, striking out two. Moss didn’t know he was going to start until he arrived at the Great Park.

“I didn’t feel like very good, but it was good enough, my change-up was good, it was good to have fun with two strikeouts and then cheer on the team for the rest of the game, it was awesome,” said Moss, who is headed to UCLA next year. “Last real high school game, walk-off, that’s just awesome.”

Moss was followed on the mound by Andrew Johnson (Capo Valley Christian), Cayden Bonura (Fountain Valley), Dominic Viglione (Newport Harbor), Casey Euper (Northwood), Plisinski (San Juan Hills), Anzai (Mission Viejo), Zach Ireland (Beckman) and Grady Faris (Dana Hills) who kept the North scoreless in the top of the ninth to give the South a chance to win.

The North pitchers were Justin Tims (Villa Park), Austin Duarte (Canyon), Landon Martin (Sonora), Aaron Sambath (Villa Park), Travis Maxwell (El Dorado), Manny Rivera (Buena Park), Brian Harbour (Foothill), Nick Santivanez (El Modena) and Cohen Gomez (Canyon).

All the players received a commemorative pin from the foundation and Guy Lemmon, founder of the Ryan Lemmon Foundation, said the game meant a lot to him. Dick Owens was tournament director and Rex Lyon assisted.

Lemmon estimated about 700 fans turned out for the game.

The South has a 32-23-1 lead in the series. The game had been played most years at Glover Stadium in Anaheim.


—-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com