Area Code Games – Monday Wrap

By Eric Sorenson. Posted on August 6th, 2012 in National stuff
 

The way the teams pitched today, you'd think the batters were going to the plate with half a bat.

In the lore of current baseball names, there are a couple of names you might recognize: Barry Zito, CC Sabathia, Josh Beckett, Bryce Harper, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Torii Hunter, Dustin Pedroia, Ryan Braun and Albert Pujols. Good enough of a pedigree for ya’? Those are some of the talents who have dug their cleats into the Blair Field diamond in Long Beach, California while playing in the Area Code Games. That’s a hell of a lineage.

This year’s Area Code Games once again has brought together some of the best names in high school baseball, all in one grand stage for the scouts, college coaches and stat geeks to salivate over. This was actually day two of the ACG, but I had special screening of “Total Recall” to go to yesterday so I couldn’t make it (by the way, I rarely recommend going to see a remake movie, but this one puts that hokie 1990 vehicle with Arnold Schwarzenegger to shame).

So here’s how some of today’s action went down at spacious Blair Field.

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GAME ONE:

Nationals – 005 030 0 – 11  13 1

Yankees – 011 010 0 –   3   1  1

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WP: Joshua Shumate

LP: Tyler Allen

Save: None

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The Southeast-based Nationals used five pitchers, who combined to give up just a single hit and the Nats offense went bonkers on the Northeast-based Yankees five pitchers, gathering 13 hits, three walks and two hit batsmen in the 11-3 rout.

The Northeasterners got out to a 1-zip lead in the 2nd inning with the help of an error and a couple of groundouts and also was getting a dominating early performance from LSU-bound pitcher Tyler Allen, who K’d four of the first seven batters hie faced.

But all this seemed to do was get the Nationals angry. The eighth Nats hitter Allen saw, he plunked. And that led to a “floodgates” inning. A walk, three straight RBI singles and then a soul-crushing two-run single from LSU-bound Nick Longhi, put the Nationals up 5-1. And that was all she wrote.

The Nationals pitching staff wasn’t necessarily dominant, but was extremely efficient at stopping any rallying hopes from the Yanks. A leadoff infield single in the 3rd inning and a leadoff walk in the 5th inning both came around to score on groundouts and flyouts respectively. But again, no great cause for alarm from the Nationals.

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WHO IMPRESSED:

- Yankees starting pitcher Tyler Allen

Okay, so he had that massive meltdown that led to the Nats’ go-ahead rally, sure. But I was pretty knocked out by his low-90s velocity and easy, easy motion. He also got six of his nine outs in his three-inning appearance by punchout. Four of those Ks came looking too.

- Nats leadoff man Dalton Dulin.

The Ole Miss commit was everything you want from a grinder. He went 3-for-4 at the dish and made a number of solid defensive plays. But the thing I liked the most was his competitive fire and uber-dirty uniform. That pretty much sums up his M.O. Now, if he’ll only spurn the MLB and show up at O.M.

- Nationals catcher Ronnie Healy.

A 6-foot, 200-pound non-committed prospect quietly went about his work very smoothly and with seemingly little effort. Yet, his patient approach at the dish allowed him to dagger the Yankees with a 2-run double and a 2-run triple to pace the RBI parade for the Nationals.

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PICS.

LSU commit Tyler Allen looked good early on, striking out nearly everything in his path. Though, unfortunately, the wheels got wobbly pretty quickly after giving up five runs in the 3rd inning.

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Another LSU talent, Nick Longhi, 21, looked good at the dish with two RBI in his four at-bats. He's got the grown body of a college-ready player... or a minors-ready player, ifyouknowwhatImean.

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The Nationals' Rafael Bournigal easily steals 2nd off the Yankees. In fact, stolen bases seemed to be an epidemic in those games I saw with the runners successfully stealing seven of the eight bases they tried.

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Ole Miss prodigy Dalton Dulin was impressive at the dish (3-for-4) and in the field, going all-out on every play.

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... see what I mean? Here Dulin gets dirty making a tag-out on a rundown of a Yankees runner.

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This near-miss by Yankees outfielder Kyle Devin led to a pair of runs.

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That near-miss gave Ronnie Healy a two-run triple, part of a 4RBI day for the non-committed talent from Jupiter, Florida.

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GAME TWO

Brewers – 000 010 1 – 2  3  0

Wh.Sox – 000 000 0 – 0  2  1

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WP: Tyler Mahle

LP: Logan Shore

Save: Phil Bickford

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Like the National Guard: When the frontliners can’t get it done, call in the reserves. That was the mantra for the Brewers in Game Two as the first four innings went by in a very  uneventful manner. But then co-managers Josh Belovsky and Dan Huston went with their gut instincts. To start the top of the 5th inning, they inserted pinch hitter Alexander Jackson, who started the frame with a leadoff double. A pair of infield groundouts by pinch hitters Jack Flaherty and Terrian Arbet, led to AJ scoring the only run the Brewers would need.

But Alexander, Mr. Jackson if you’re nasty, wasn’t done there. Two innings later Jackson cemented the game with screaming solo home run over the left field wall – a rarity in Blair Field where the dimensions are the size of Siberia, much less using a wood bat. That blast accounted for the 2-0 margin.

The cause for the complete clampdown of the White Sox bats was due to the Southern California-based Brewer pitchers being completely locked-in all game long, keeping the Sox at bay. A.J. Puk, a Florida commit, connected with the only real hit on the day for the Midwest-based White Sox. I say that because this game was destined to be the second straight one-hitter of the day, but pinch hitter John Roblez came in and duffer a bouncer off home plate which turned into a 10-foot base hit. But not a single Sox runner even reached second base… talk about posing as much of a threat as a inanimate teddy bear, right? Wow.

For records sake, I think it bears noting that the five Brewer pitchers which dampened the Sox offense were starter Ian Clarkin (a San Diego commit), Tylor Megill (uncommited), Tyler Mahle (a UC Santa Barbara commit), Adrian DeHorta (a Fullerton commit) and Phil Bickford (another Fullerton commit). Good job boys.

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WHO IMPRESSED:

- Alexander Jackson.

Yep, this is a no-brainer. He dug into the batter’s box for the first time in the 5th inning and was THE difference-maker in the game from there. As mentioned above, his double and solo blast home run were the reasons the Brewers won. This high school senior-to-be is noncommittal so far. I’d imagine the recruiting battle for his services are pretty off the hook. Wow.

- All five Brewer pitchers.

All of them go 6’2 or taller and are inning-eating big-frame types. Whether any of them hit the college diamonds or move on to the MLB, they’ve certainly impressed today, with each of them touching 90mph on their fastball and having good deliveries from the hill.

- J.P. Crawford, SS/CF

Crawford is in his second tour of duty at the Area Code Games, playing centerfield last season and starting today’s game at shortstop. He moved back into the middle of the meadow midway through today’s game as well, playing flawlessly and showing good speed. Speaking of good speed, Crawford, a USC commit, didn’t get a hit at the plate, but he did walk twice and each time he displayed his “gung-ho” style by sprinting down to 1st base. Coach Frank Cruz and Co. have to like that kind of gumption.

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PICS:

Big lefty Trey Ball had the White Sox in contention early on with some deft hurling. He's a Texas commit, but from what I've heard he's also a can't miss 1st rounder-to be, so that's why I wrote that he probably won't show up in Austin. But we can always hope so.

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Brewer starter Ian Clarkin, with his high leg-kick, also showed some good early work, zipping his heater into the low 90s and a mid-70s changeup. He's committed to Rich Hill's San Diego program.

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See all those zeroes on the scoreboard? Apparently Alexander Jackson (18) wanted to change that single-handedly. He ended up scoring both of the Brewers runs, including after this leadoff double to start the 5th inning.

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Yep, this is what happens to wooden bats. That's why college programs will probably never switch back to wood: too costly.

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USC-bound J.P. Crawford was a ball of energy for the Brewers, earning a few walks from his leadoff position and also playing well at both Shortstop and centerfield.

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Gosuke Katoh (8) gets yet another steal off the White Sox. As you'll read below, stolen bases seemed to be nearly easy to pull off today.

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Though rare they may be in the spacious confines of Blair Field, White Sox fielders Try Michalczewski (27) and Andrew Rosa (23) can only watch as Alexander Jackson's presidential-like yard call goes over the wall (upper left corner).

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... afterwhich Jackson (18) tells the Bat Boy, "See, that's how it's done kid."

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The Titans will get another golden arm. Fullerton-bound Phil Bickford closed things down in the final inning of the game.

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Sorry, this DOES count as a hit: Brewer catcher Tyler Alamo frets over the 10-foot chopper which gave the White Sox their second hit of the game.

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GAME THREE.

Rangers – 5

Royals – 3

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I didn’t stick around for this one, sorry. Had to get home and take care of some menial stuff. But don’t worry, I’ll get plenty of chances to see both teams during the week.

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OTHER NOTES:

- The best player I have yet to see.

Sunday, Rangers’ slugger Corey Simpson did the unthinkable – hitting a home run over straightaway centerfield, which is 400 feet at Blair Field. Then today, in the third game that I didn’t see, Simpson hit a 395-foot double to the centerfield wall in helping to pace the Texas-based Rangers to a win over Royals. Damn!

I hope he still has a few more tricks left up his wooden bat when I get to see him play in the days ahead.

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- Steamy weather.

I saw on the Area Code Games twitter that they said it was “perfect weather.” I DO protest muchly.

Today started what is supposed to be a week of unseasonably high temperatures to the Southland. Today was a testament to that forecast with the temperature at the start of the first game at 9am being 75 degrees. The high ended up reaching 90 degrees in Long Beach, which to most of the country ain’t crap, right? Well for Long Beach, that’s a heat spell.

Consider that last year’s first day’s temperature when I showed up at Blair Field was 63 degrees. Yikes. Usually the marine layer along the coast keeps temperatures relatively cool. This week, it’s supposed to be cloudless all week… which means hot temps for these poor souls from across the country.

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- Five things about the Area Code Games.

Here are a few things to keep in mind about this week’s games in Long Beach:

1- It’s all wood.

Yep, remember, this week’s games are all played with wood bats. That’s what makes Corey Simpson’s epic blasts to deep center field so amazing.

2- 7 innings.

All games at the ACGs are seven inning contests. There ARE a few designated 9 inning games, but they are usually just two or three at most.

3- Extra Hitter

Each team is given the option of having a 10th hitter in the lineup, named the “extra hitter.” So it’s sort of like beer-league softball in the number of people who can bat in the order.

4- Two umpires.

The Area Code Games doesn’t exactly go overboard on spending here, that’s why there are only two umpires working each game. And that’s also why when a left-handed batter checked a swing today, the catcher asked the home plate umpire to ask the field umpire… who was standing down the 1st base line. No way to call a swing from that position.

5- We’ll never see most of these guys in college.

As you know, there are exceptions to this – like the previously mentioned names of Dustin Pedroia, Ryan Braun, Ryan Howard and Barry Zito – but for the most part, most of these dudes who are playing in Long Beach this week will be drafted too high next summer and will take the pro money and run.

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- Poor grammar has run amok.

Here are a couple of examples of bad signage I saw at Blair Field today:

Okay New Balance, I get what you're getting at. But go ahead and change your slogan to "Excellence Starts Here." It's kind of like that old Apple Computers tagline "Think Different", it's grammatically incorrect, but Apple is cool enough to get away with it.

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I don't know what "GI" is, but I like their moxie with this T-shirt. But of course, go ahead and replace "then" with "than" and all will be right, according to my 4th grade English teacher Miss Coudron.

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Okay, more from Long Beach and the Area Code Games on Tuesday.

G’night.

 

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