For eight weeks each school year, Arizona’s high school baseball players work their way through dozens of games without getting to know the players on the other teams. For two days after the season is long over, many of them get a chance to play as teammates with those they’ve faced as opponents during the regular season.
That’s the focus of the Arizona Baseball Coaches Association (AZBCA) All-Star games, which this year saw a domination by the South. The only win by a North squad among the five games played at Goodyear Ballpark over the weekend came in the 5A competition, where the North capped a drama-filled ninth inning by using a two-run rally to post a 5-4 come-from-behind victory.
Actually, it was a full game of catch-up for the North after the South jumped out to a 4-0 lead going into the sixth inning. The North was able to close the gap by scoring a couple of runs in the sixth and another in the eighth when Manny Macias from Apollo High School doubled to score the base runner.
But it was another double, this time from Macias’ teammate at Apollo, Guillermo Rivera, that began the ninth-inning rally when he brought home Desert Mountain’s Zack Steward, aboard on a single, to tie the game at 4-4. Then, Horizon High’s Kody Huff used a sacrifice fly to bring Rivera in from third for the 5-4 victory.
The 5A game was the last game of the day, so it came down to the final three outs of the final game before the North, which used eight pitchers, was able to avoid a five-game sweep by the South.
MVP honors for the game went to Cameron Pehrson from Camp Verde High School following a 4-for-5 performance at the plate.
Prior to that game, the rest of the big-school competition took place, with the South claiming the win in 6A with a barrage of 14 hits spread over three innings.
Nick Wallerstedt from Mountain Pointe High School got the ball rolling early for the South with a home run in the second inning – the game’s only round trip. The South added three more runs in the fifth and capped off the win with a four-run blitz in the sixth.
AJ Herrera from Skyline High School had a big day for the South, with a 3-for-5 night that included a double and an RBI.
The North collected eight hits, with Michael Benites from North High contributing two of those.