The arrival of the annual high school baseball all-star game is a sure sign that we’re beginning another summer in Arizona. And this year, it signals something more important.
It heralds a return to normalcy.
This year’s Arizona Baseball Coaches Association All-Star event is especially welcome since last year’s games were cancelled due to COVID 19.
Players from all of the state’s conferences, from 1A through 6A, are given a chance to compete in the AZBCA’s postseason event, with an additional contest for those who qualified for the Academic All Stars team.
This year, the lucky players were those placed on the South teams, since the North All Stars were successful in just the 5A game.
The 6A All Stars played the marquee game Sunday evening, treating fans to a dramatic finish that wasn’t decided until the bottom of the eighth inning when Patrick Herrera, the shortstop from Skyline HS, used his second hit of the game, a two-out single, to break a 5-5 tie and lead the South All Stars to a 6-5 victory.
The North jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but the South had turned the tables by the sixth inning to take over the lead, 5-3. But the North evened things up in the top of the eighth before Herrera’s single to center in the bottom of that inning brought home the winning run.
Brophy’s John Clasen led all South batters with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate. Barrett Skaugrud from Sandra Day O’Connor HS also had a 3-for-4 night to lead the North’s offense.
Herrera, the son of South coach Pat Herrera, was named Most Valuable Player.
The 5A game, played just prior to the 6A contest, was the only time the North All Stars notched a win. And they had to come from behind to do it.
The North trailed 3-2 going into the ninth inning, but had two runners on base when Cole Caruso (Cactus Shadows HS) singled in a run, as did Nathan Catanach (Willow Canyon HS). The fifth run came courtesy of a wild pitch.
Caruso, who plays shortstop for the Falcons, was named the game’s MVP.
On Saturday, the 4A South All Stars used a three-run rally in the bottom of the fifth to wrap up their 3-1 win. Fans at that game got to see a lot of variety on the mound since it took a combined seven pitchers to get through the game.
Colton Vercoe (Poston Butte HS) led the South attack, going 2-for-3 at the plate, while Zach Zwaschka (Mesquite HS) was not only the winning pitcher, but was selected as MVP after going 1-for-3 batting and scored one of the three runs.
The 1A through 3A conferences were represented in a single game, which the South won by piling up 32 runs, scoring in every inning except the first and fifth.
Alyxx Garcia (Safford HS) led the South to the 32-10 victory by collecting a pair of hits and four RBI’s – which earned the outfielder that game’s Most Outstanding Player award.