The 2017 PreSeason Top 25

By Eric Sorenson . Posted on December 22nd, 2016 in National Stuff Comments: 0

Okay StitchHeads, here you go. Here is my Top 25 as it will appear in Athlon’s Preseason magazine. And of course, chances are quite strong that this is NOT how the teams will end the season in June. Just sayin’. THE TOP 25 1- TCU, 49-18 2- LSU, 45-21 3- Florida State, 41-22 4- Texas [...]

 
 

2016 Area Code Games – Day Five

By Eric Sorenson . Posted on August 11th, 2016 in National Stuff Comments: 0

It's called "Synchronized Stretching". Donivan Williams gets a chuckle as he and an unidentified White Sox teammate doing very similar pregame stretching exercises.

It’s called “Synchronized Stretching”.
Donivan Williams gets a chuckle as he and an unidentified White Sox teammate doing very similar pregame stretching exercises.

.
The Southern California-based Brewers team made Area Code Games history today.

Not only did they secure the first-ever no-hitter in ACGs history, but they also became the first team in the 29 years of the games to win twice on the final day to procure the Area Code Games championship. The Brewers downed the Midwest-based White Sox with an 8-0 skunking in the afternoon and then rallied to pull out an unlikely 7-6 win over the Royals in the nightcap. That’s some pretty heady stuff.

Before we get to the results from Wednesday’s Day Five finale, we need to discuss a topic I am very jealous of… hair.

Here is the ALL HAIR TEAM from the 2016 Area Code Games.

Royals pitcher Jacob Pfennigs was the "Cousin It" of the Area Code Games. He was also the standard by which all Area Code Games players will be judged. By the way, Pfennigs is a 6'7 specimen and just 17 years old, yet he throws in the low 90s. My gawd.

Royals pitcher Jacob Pfennigs was the “Cousin It” of the Area Code Games. He was also the standard by which all Area Code Games players will be judged in the coifed department. By the way, Pfennigs is a 6’7 specimen,  just 17 years old and going to be a junior, yet he throws in the low 90s. My gawd.

.

Washington Nationals infielder Justin Connell, who is allegedly choosing between Arizona State and Florida State, also chose to go with the aggressive mohawk look. Even umpire Tony Norris can't help but give it a stare.

Washington Nationals infielder Justin Connell, who is allegedly choosing between Arizona State and Florida State, also chose to go with the aggressive mohawk look. Even umpire Tony Norris can’t help but give it a Billy Idol-like snarl.

.

As the Muppets would sing, "Ragmop!" The White Sox catcher, Joe Donovan, who is headed to Michigan, likes the moppy look... and also goes with the single black glare strip under his right eye.

As the Muppets would sing, “Ragmop!” The White Sox catcher, Joe Donovan, who is headed to Michigan, likes the moppy look… and also goes with the single black glare strip under his right eye. Now THAT’S a signature look.

.

Reds closer Trey Dillard had better hair than he did better luck on the mound this week at the ACGs. I'll get into that more in a bit. In the mean time, I admire his white-boy-fro-like look.

Reds closer Trey Dillard had better hair than he did better luck on the mound this week at the ACGs. I’ll get into that more in a bit. In the mean time, I admire his white-boy-fro-like look.

.

The Brewers' Je'Von Ward sported the mohawk-like fro, augmented by the sparkling earring. Hope he keeps that 'do during his time at USC.

The Brewers’ Je’Von Ward sported the spiky fro, augmented by the sparkling earring. Hope he keeps that ‘do during his time at USC.

.

Home Run Derby champion Jordon Adell had an early-90s like Kid-N-Play look. Okay, not quite as tall as Kid's 'do, but it is still impressive.

Home Run Derby champion Jordon Adell (Louisville commit) had an early-90s like Kid-N-Play look. Okay, not quite as tall as Kid’s ‘do, but it is still impressive.

.

This New York Yankees coach had a bitchin' Rollie Fingers handlebar mustache going on. He's been here at the Area Code Games for a number of years.

This New York Yankees coach had a bitchin’ Rollie Fingers handlebar mustache going on. He’s been here at the Area Code Games for a number of years.

.

How about this dude's throwback to the 60s with the stylish van dyke he's got going on? I dig it man. (I'm snapping my fingers in appreciation)

How about this dude’s Mad Men-era throwback to the 60s with the stylish van dyke he’s got going on? I dig it man. (I’m snapping my fingers in appreciation)

.

I love this... muchly. Royals catcher Jacob Terao has the samurai warrior look with the hair pulled up into a bun on top of his head. I should include a picture of John Belushi from the Saturday Night Live samurai warrior sketches from the late 70s.

I love this… muchly. Royals catcher Jacob Terao has the samurai warrior look with the hair pulled up into a bun on top of his head. I should include a picture of John Belushi from the Saturday Night Live samurai warrior sketches from the late 70s.

.
Okay, enough of that. It’s making me jealous. Now on to the action on the field…

GAME SIXTEEN
Nationals – 8
Yankees – 7

Andrew Papantonis kept up his hot streak by going 2-for-2 with a pair of RBI and a stolen base to pace the Yanks. But it wasn’t enough to overcome the Nationals, who came from behind to post their third win of the week.

.
GAME SEVENTEEN
Rangers – 4
Royals – 2

According to the people at the Area Code Games, Ranger pitcher Russell Smith – who is bound for TCU – threw seven Ks in his 3.0 innings of mound work. That’s pretty dang good. Almost Nick Lodolo-like if you ask me.

Isaiah Smith led the Royals offense by going 3-for-3 with an RBI and a pair of stolen bases. Smith, a strapping 6’3, 200, is headed to play at Washington State next year.

.
GAME EIGHTEEN
White Sox – 000 000 0 – 0  0  3
Brewers… – 220 040 0 – 8  7  0

Yes, we’re talking history here.

A no hitter.

How historic is it? Believe it or not, with all the hyper-talented big league-like pitchers that have graced Blair Field, this is supposedly the first no-hitter in Area Code Games history. Yep, from 1987 until today, not a single no-hitter ever.

We got one today from the Southern California-based Brewers squad. Of their 21 outs recorded, starter Matthew Saucer (Arizona commit), Sam Glick (UCLA commit) and Zachary Pettway (also a UCLA commit) combined for 11 Ks, seven groundouts and three flyouts.

The only blemishes on the ledger were a walk and a hit batsman by Sauer in the third inning and a walk in the sixth inning by Pettway. Click was perfect in his two innings of duty.

Arizona's got another good one in this Matthew Sauer dude. The lanky righty threw hard and threw well. He commanded the zone with a low-90s bullet and some biting off-speed stuff. Today he threw the first three innings, going three-up, three-down in the first two innings and escaping trouble in the third for a perfect outing.

“Don’t swing until you see the whites of his eyes.” Arizona’s got another good one in this Matthew Sauer dude. The lanky righty threw hard and threw well. He commanded the zone with a low-90s bullet and some biting off-speed stuff. Today he threw the first three innings, going three-up, three-down in the first two innings and escaping trouble in the third for a perfect outing.

.

Crafty lefty Sam Glick, who is bound for UCLA, did the best of the three Brewers pitchers today.

Make no mistake, he’s no Jiminy Glick. Crafty lefty Sam Glick, who is bound for UCLA, did the best of the three Brewers pitchers today.

.

Attaway Pettway! The Brewers closer today was Zachary Pettway, who tossed the last two innings, allowing just a walk in his seven-up, six-down performance.

Attaway Pettway! The Brewers closer today was Zachary Pettway, who tossed the last two innings, allowing just a walk in his seven-up, six-down performance.

.
Offensively, the Brewers got all they needed from cleanup man Garrett Mitchell, who got a two-run single in his first at-bat and then three consecutive walks to reach base all four times at the plate. On top of that G-Mitch also stole three bases.

Joining him in the hit-parade was Brice Turand (LSU), who went 2-for-2 with a pair of singles. UCLA-bound Hagen Danner reached base twice with a plunking and a single from his nine-hole spot in the order.

Another way to get on base for this base-percentage expert. Garrett Mitchell reached base all four times he stepped to the plate today. If he ends up at UCLA, coach Savage has to love the potential he would give his offense.

Another way to get on base for this on-base percentage expert. Garrett Mitchell reached base all four times he stepped to the plate today. If he ends up at UCLA, coach Savage has to love the potential he would give his offense.

The score could’ve been worse but there is some kind of weird rule in the Area Code Games where a team is not allowed to score more than four runs in any single inning. That’s what the Brewers did in the fifth inning. The topper to that frame came when Jayson Gonzalez scorched a burner toward second that was mishandled by the White Sox second baseman, allowing two runs to score.

By the way, the Brewers also ran roughshod on the White Sox defense in the stolen base department. According to my unofficial count they had nine thefts in the game. Not once did they get caught either, so that’s 9-for-9. Mitchell had those three I pointed out earlier and Nicholas Pratto had back-to-back steals in the fifth inning after reaching on a walk.

.

Despite some of the shortcomings of the defenders around him today, Donivan Williams was stellar at the hot corner playing fundamental baseball.

Despite some of the shortcomings of the defenders around him today, Donivan Williams was stellar at the hot corner playing fundamental baseball. By the way, from what I found, here is the list of college that Donivan is considering: Eastern Kentucky, Illinois State, Kansas State, Penn State, St. John’s, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Richmond. That’s a pretty diverse list, right?

.

Yep, here is one of those problematic moments for the White Sox defense as Kaden Polcovich can't wrangle in this wild throw as Nicholas Pratto steals second.

Yep, here is one of those problematic moments for the White Sox defense as Kaden Polcovich (Oklahoma commit)  can’t wrangle in this wild throw as Nicholas Pratto (USC) steals second.

.

Hunter Greene, who threw 98-plus miles per hour on the mound on Sunday, was just as stellar at shortstop on defense. This dude can do it all at a high level. Not fair.

Hunter Greene, who threw 98-plus miles per hour on the mound on Sunday, was just as stellar at shortstop on defense. This dude can do it all at a high level. It borders on the unfair.

.

White Sox pitcher Ryan Kutt does his best Mikhail Baryshnikov on the mound on his follow through. The Brother Rice product has committed to Illinois and flashed a 91-92mph fastball while being the only White Sox pitcher of the seven used to retire the side in order.

White Sox pitcher Ryan Kutt does his best Mikhail Baryshnikov on the mound on his follow through. The 6’2, 180-pound Brother Rice product has committed to Illinois and flashed a 91-92mph fastball while being the only White Sox pitcher of the seven used to retire the side in order.

.

The White Sox dugout seems dejected over the thought of finally losing a game here in Long Beach.

The White Sox dugout seems dejected over the thought of finally losing a game here in Long Beach.

.

USC-bound Je'Von Ward puts the finishing touches on the no-hitter with a sliding catch to end the game. This was actually the closest the Sox came to getting a hit. Nice snag by Ward here though, flashing his plus-speed and steady glove.

USC-bound Je’Von Ward puts the finishing touches on the no-hitter with a sliding catch to end the game. This was actually the closest the Sox came to getting a hit. Nice snag by Ward here though, flashing his plus-speed and steady glove.

.
GAME NINETEEN
Athletics – 1
Royals – 4

Arthur Pate goes 3-for-4 on the day to lead the Royals to their second win of the week. For the A’s, who went punchless after scoring four runs in their first game back on Sunday, got a home run and 2-for-3 performance from Braydon Altorfer. The unique thing about Altorfer is that he is headed for the Air Force Academy to help defend our country. In all my years of covering the Area Code Games I’ve never heard of one of these high-profile players headed to the Air Force. Well done bro.

.
GAME TWENTY
Reds… – 6  9  3
Brewers -  8  10  0

A great finish to this year’s Area Code Games. For the second time this week the SoCal-based Brewers made a spirited last inning comeback to preserve their unbeaten week.

Calvin Mitchell slapped a bouncing single through the right side of the infield to score two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, making the score 7-6 for the deciding runs. And the win.

Unfortunately, the game kept going since they play all seven innings, regardless of the score. The Brewers added some window dressing to the job with another run in the bottom of the seventh to account for the final score.

Sad to report that Reds bullpen closer Trey Dillard blew his second save of the week in this final game, giving up the three runs in the final frame. He also blew the lead vs. the Yankees on Monday, allowing them to go from a 3-2 lead to giving up two runs in the bottom of the final inning to end the game in a 4-3 loss. Better times ahead Holmes, I promise.

The most efficient pitcher of the night for the Brewers was Chase Farrell (try to act surprised, he’s another UCLA commit), who pitched just two innings but racked up six strikeouts to temporarily put the screws to the Reds. Too bad he couldn’t pitch the whole game.

.
HOW FICKLE RECRUITING CAN BE.
I offer to you the journey that Austin Marozas has been on that (seemingly) concluded today.

When I was researching the players for the Area Code Games and their college commitments, I had found Marozas (who is playing for the Midwest-based Chicago White Sox this week) had committed to Mississippi State. Don’t ask me where I got that info, I look up hundreds of players and their commitments leading up to the ACGs. Just know that it was somewhere out there on the interwebsthingee.

Then, checking his Perfect Game profile, it states that “Arkansas” is his committed choice for a four-year college, as you see here…

AustinMarozasPGprofile

Later today, Kendall Rogers of our D1baseball.com site made a Twitter comment about Marozas and his new commitment to the University of Kentucky…

AustinMarozasCommitToUK

Oh, and on top of all that, Marozas also pitched an inning at the Area Code Games in Long Beach today as well…

At 6'7, 225 and throwing a 93 mile-per-hour burner, there's no guarantee this tall drink of water is going to show up anywhere for college anyway. He's a big time talent.

At 6’7, 225 and throwing a 93 mile-per-hour burner, there’s no guarantee this tall drink of water is going to show up anywhere for college anyway. He’s a big time talent.

Stay tuned to this soap opera. It may be far from over.

.
ONE MORE NOTE ABOUT WEATHER

I have harped on here about how perfect of a location this is to hold the Area Code Games. I mean, could you imagine the staffers, players and umpires having to stay here all day in the broiling sun if this tournament was played someplace like godforsaken Dallas, Texas?

Just to let you know, here is how the weather conditions were all week here in Long Beach…

ACG16-LBweather

.
And here is how things looked in Dallas, Texas… just in case you had to play your summer ball there…

ACG16-DFWweather

.
Okay, that puts a wrap on the week from the Area Code Games. Hope you enjoyed it. It’s always a fun way for me to get my baseball fix in after the college season has concluded. And hopefully the college coaches who have commitments from the players here will remind these players that getting an education, being a big man on campus and chasing sorority girls is a lot more fun and rewarding than riding rickety busses in the minors with teammates that hate you coz they think you are trying to steal their job. Go ahead and push that off for a few years while upping your draft profile to earn millions more in a few years after your college days are done.

There. It had to be said.

 
 

2016 Area Code Games – Day Four

By Eric Sorenson . Posted on August 10th, 2016 in National Stuff Comments: 0

Those poor Kansas City Royals. Here the dugout looks on helplessly as they are one out away from another non-victory.

Those poor Kansas City Royals. Here the dugout looks on helplessly as they are one out away from another non-victory.

Four days down, one to go.

Today was chock full of action at the Area Code Games in Long Beach as there were four games, starting at 8am and then the Home Run Derby in the evening.

 
 

2016 Area Code Games – Day Three

By Eric Sorenson . Posted on August 9th, 2016 in National Stuff Comments: 0

"Walk-Off win baby." New York Yankees pitcher Matt Tabor did some profiling in front of my camera lens after the Yankees scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the last inning. Tabor, who is committed to Elon, threw a pair of solid innings to close things out and get the "win" on the mound.

“Walk-Off win baby.”
New York Yankees pitcher Matt Tabor did some profiling in front of my camera lens after the Yankees scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the last inning. Tabor, who is committed to Elon, threw a pair of solid innings to close things out and get the “win” on the mound. 

I mentioned in yesterday’s writeup that this is the 30th year of the Area Code Games. Well I was actually wrong. My bad. This is the 31st edition of the ACG.

It all started in 1985 in Lodi, California, which is in the northern part of the San Joaquin Valley – otherwise known as the “Zinfandel Capital of the World.”

 
 

2016 Area Code Games – Day Two

By Eric Sorenson . Posted on August 8th, 2016 in National Stuff Comments: 0

Hunter Greene was THE showcase stud on day two of the Area Code Games as he sat at 97-98 on his fastball and even hit triple digits at times. Damn, that commitment to UCLA probably isn't going to stick, since the pros will give him a Brinks truck worth of cash to go pro.

Bob Gibson has returned to baseball! Hunter Greene was THE showcase stud on day two of the Area Code Games as he sat at 97-98 on his fastball and even hit triple digits at times. Damn, that commitment to UCLA probably isn’t going to stick, since the pros will give him a Brinks truck worth of cash to go pro.

Sunday marked the first occurrence of four games in one day, starting at noon west coast time. So all eight teams played today, including the SoCal-based Brewers and Northwest-based Royals, who were the last two teams to put on the unit and hit the diamond for game action.

 
 

2016 Area Code Games – Day One

By Eric Sorenson . Posted on August 7th, 2016 in National Stuff Comments: 0

Another cloudlessly-cool day at the Area Code Games in Long Beach, California.

Another cloudlessly-cool day at the Area Code Games in Long Beach, California.

I had a group of friends asking me if I wanted to go to today’s Boston-L.A. game at Dodger Stadium in downtown Los Angeles. You know what I said? “Oh HELL no.”

There is a little something called the Area Code Games going on down in Long Beach.

 
 

2016 CWS Championship Series: Arizona One Step Away

CCUUofAtherecanonlybeone

Well all it took was an amazing, herculean effort from No. 3 starter J.C. Cloney and Arizona is now one win away from its fifth national title. The junior bulldog flinger held Coastal Carolina to just four hits and three walks as the Wildcats took game one of the CWS title series 3-0.

 
 

CWS 2016 Championship Series: There Can Only Be One

CCUUofAtherecanonlybeone
Okay boys and girls. We’re all set. It comes down to Florida and Louisville for the national title.

Wait… what?… That’s NOT who is in the finals here in Omaha? No best of three between the SEC and ACC monster powers?

Coastal who? From WHAT conference?… And Arizona, a Pac 12 team? Pfft, c’mon. You are SOOOOO lying.

I guess I better stop being so hilariously facetious here. Yes it is Coastal Carolina and Arizona. That’s right, a pair of two-seeds facing off for the national title. This will be the first time since 1992 that two team who were not seeded among the top 16 will be facing off for the national title. This will also be the 11th time in the last 13 years that the winner of the big brass ring will be a team that is not a national seed.

So, are you SURE you want your team to be a top eight seed? Be our guest.

 
 

2016 CWS – The Elimination Games

So while I was standing out near the Arizona team huddle after the game when I hear coach Jay Johnson all his team, "There was only one national writer who said Arizona was going to go to Omaha and that was back in April. Give a hand to Eric Sorenson." And this was the picture I took of them cheering me. Ha, talk about out of nowhere.

So while I was standing out near the Arizona team huddle after the game when I hear coach Jay Johnson all his team, “There was only one national writer who said Arizona was going to go to Omaha and that was back in April. Give a hand to Eric Sorenson.” And this was the picture I took of them cheering me. Ha, talk about out of nowhere.