June 25, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PREVIEW: El Modena and Crean Lutheran coaches excited to lead OC all-star baseball teams

Great Park Stadium will be the new home of the OC All-Star Baseball Game. (Photos: Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone).

El Modena High School’s Josh Kliner (North) and Crean Lutheran’s Jake Haney (South) were making final preparations Tuesday to lead their teams in the 56th annual Orange County All-Star Baseball Game Wednesday night at the Great Park Stadium.

The game, which has been run since the start by the Kiwanis Club of Greater Anaheim, is being sponsored by Guy Lemmon’s Ryan Lemmon Foundation for the first time.

It starts at 6:30 p.m.

“It’s a great honor and something I didn’t really expect,” said Kliner, who will be coaching his second all-star game.

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Kliner, who has been the head Vanguards’ coach for 17 years and at El Modena for 20 years, said he and his assistants want to make sure this is a special night for the players.

“You go into it trying to make sure that these kids have a great time, it’s a huge honor for them and an accomplishment and something they should treasure for the rest of their time,” Kliner said. “As a coach, you just want to make sure they have a special day and that they’re appreciated and they’re able to have a good time and connect with a bunch of other great players.

“There will be a few I will meet for the first time tomorrow other than talking on the phone with them, but I’ve definitely seen a lot of them play before. There is a lot of talent on the field and we want to make sure that all these guys have great times out here.”

Kliner and El Modena’s baseball program have had success at the Great Park, winning the 2022 and 2018 titles at the Ryan Lemmon Invitational.

“It’s been a good place for El Modena,” he said.

Two of Kliner’s El Modena players, second baseman Logan Asch and pitcher-third baseman Nick Santivanez, who is going to Cal State Northridge on a baseball scholarship, are on the North team. Asch plans to play at Mt. San Antonio College.

“That’s going to be really special for me having those guys out there with me,” Kliner said. “They’ve been huge for our success at El Modena and they’ve been an absolute pleasure to coach and it’s going to be my last hurrah with those two guys, I’m really looking forward to it, it will be a little bittersweet but I’m glad they were both able to finish off their high school careers in this way.”

Kliner said the South team ‘is talented and there are a bunch of great baseball players on that squad, they’re going to go on and do some great things in college as well, so it will be a lot of fun competing against them and getting to know those guys as well.”

Kliner said he’s appreciative of the efforts of Guy Lemmon and game director Dick Owens.

“They’ve been an amazing ambassador for high school sports,” Kliner said. “They don’t ask for anything in return and they give so much to Orange County baseball, we’re completely indebted to them. Guy Lemmon and Dick Owens through the years have really supported us as coaches and our players and they stepped up to make sure this tradition of honoring our the best of Orange County lives on.”

Haney, the South coach, will also be coaching two of his players, shortstop Sho Garcia and catcher Jackson Haney, Coach Haney’s son. He’s also looking forward to coaching the game.

“I’m super excited and thankful for the opportunity to coach in the OC All-Star Game,” Jake Haney said. “There is a long tradition of great coaches and players that have been a part of the game over the last 55 years. We have a super talented roster and I think they will be able to appreciate what an honor it is. 

‘It’s great to coach Sho and Jackson one last time. They’ve meant a lot to our program the last four years and they are extremely deserving of the honor of playing in this game.” 

The South has a 30-23-1 lead in the series and won last year’s game, 11-8.

General admission tickets for the game will be $15. Tickets for students will be $5 with a student ID. Tickets can be purchased with cash or Venmo at the gate.

The gates will open at 4 p.m.

Lemmon reminds fans that the Ryan Lemmon Foundation has arranged for Long Beach-based iPost Sports, a sports streaming platform, to stream and record the game so family, friends, coaches, and scouts anywhere can watch the game either live or later for post-game viewing, according to the Foundation.

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