AZ prep baseball stars off to good start at Area Code Games

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                </div>Some high schools are actually beginning classes already, but summer can’t officially conclude until the last batter is out at the Area Code Games, the annual summer ritual that brings […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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Some high schools are actually beginning classes already, but summer can’t officially conclude until the last batter is out at the Area Code Games, the annual summer ritual that brings together the country’s best prep baseball players for an opportunity to play a week-long schedule of games in front of college recruiters and professional scouts.

Arizona players are put on the Reds, a team made up of representatives from the Four Corners states and Hawaii.  Last year, the squad broke even with wins and losses, but are already off to a good start this year – thanks in large part to a trio of Arizona hitters.

Yesterday’s opening game for the Reds and Rangers went into extra innings before Payton Squier slashed a drive into center in the ninth inning that broke a 4-4 deadlock and put the Reds in the win column from the git-go. But a couple of other Arizona players helped set the table for Squier’s heroics.

The Rangers led 4-0 before Jed Fagg put the Reds on the board in the bottom of the fifth with a single that drove in the team’s first run, and then Squier made it 4-2 by lining a shot to center that drove in the second run.  Alex Verdugo then tied it up with a two-run triple to push the game into extra innings.

Squier is a second baseman from Greenway High School in Phoenix, Fagg is a shortstop from Williams Field High School in Gilbert, and Verdugo is a pitcher from Sahuaro High School in Tucson.

Verdugo got to the plate, but not to the mound.  Three Reds pitchers worked through the first game, but none were from Arizona, which has four pitchers, including Verdugo, on this year’s roster.  The group includes three lefties – Andrew Shaps (Chaparral High, Scottsdale), Nicholas Meservey (Saguaro High, Scottsdale), and Verdugo – plus right-hander Ryan Castellani from Brophy Prep in Phoenix.

There are more than the usual number of Arizona players dotting this year’s 23-man Reds’ roster.  The 12 local players include Jakob Golfarb (OF/Desert Mountain HS, Scottsdale), Gerard Hernandez (OF/Pinnacle HS, Phoenix), Cole Tucker (SS/ Mountain Pointe HS, Phoenix), Hunter Bross (OF/ Notre Dame Prep, Scottsdale), Luis Gonzales (OF/ Catalina Foothills HS, Tucson), and Matt Duce (C / Buena HS, Sierra Vista).  Last year’s roster included nine from Arizona.

All of the dozen that made the trip to Long Beach, Calif. for the Games were invited following tryouts.  In most cases, they were nominated by a Major League scout to be considered for an invitation.  Generally, about 300 invitations are sent out each year and more than 200 are put on teams that are sponsored by MLB teams.

Each of the eight teams that participate in the Games are composed of players from different parts of the country and are organized according to area codes – thus the name of the event.

The Area Code Games come at the tail end of the high school prospect circuit that runs through the summer. Hundreds of Major League scouts attend the games and then track the players during the coming school year.

The 20th and final game at Blair Field is scheduled for Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

(Photo: Area Code Games)