Area Code Games – Tuesday Wrap

By Eric Sorenson. Posted on August 7th, 2012 in National stuff
 

A quick peep. This unidentified Brewers player - whose eye-black is reminiscent of the 2003 Missouri State team which made it to the College World Series- takes a look into the Area Code Games crowd.

No shock at all to find that my Time Warner Cable-based internet which my home computer is linked up to (I wouldn’t bother to use anything but DIRECTV for my TV needs) wasn’t able to give me the ESPN3 showing of Tuesday’s Area Code Games. Yep, insert McCauley Culkin face of shock from “Home Alone.”

So I had to shake the cobwebs out, get into my ’64 Dodge Dart with the wire hanger for an antenna and cruise down the 405 Freeway to Long Beach to see what was goin’ on in Day Two of the ACG. I missed the first game between the 4-corners based Reds and the NoCal based A’s – won by the Reds 4-3. But here is how the rest of the day looked from where I was.

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GAME TWO

WhiteSox – 404 011 0 – 10 13 1

Yankees – 310 000 0 –   4   9   5

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This one looked like a scorefest at first, with the Midwest-based Sox plating four and the Northeast-based Yanks plating three in the opening frame. The Yanks would tie the game in the 2nd inning on an RBI single from Dylan Manwaring, a Wake Forest commit. (I can see coach Walter salivating from here… the dude’s got some serious skills at the dish).

But the entire game flipped in the top of the 3rd inning, where the Sox plated four runs once again, keyed by a leadoff triple by Ryan Boldt (Nebraska bound), followed by a run scoring double from Trey Ball – yes the same lanky lefty Longhorn-to-be (?) who pitched on Monday. That would prove to be the game-winning run, but Florida-bound A.J. Puk (who also pitched on Monday) come on two batters later and sliced a two-run double which bounced over the right-center field wall. It was very Brian Johnson-esque for the future two-way Gator.

After wrangling the lead with that dominant inning at the dish, a handful of White Sox pitchers came on to post a shutout the rest of the way, highlighted by Oklahoma State-commit Thomas Hatch and John Roblez, a pair of righties.

Definitely NOT Jungmann-like. Future Texas Longhorn Trey Ball (36) can do more than pitch, as he shows here lunging his 6'6" body into a 3rd base slide. He knocked in Ryan Boldt with a double, then stole 3rd here. Impressive athlete.

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Winthrop bound Matt Crohan, a fireballing 6'3" lefty, came in and kept the Yankees in the game with a good outing in relief.

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WHO IMPRESSED:

- OF Ryan Boldt, White Sox

Smooth swinging Cornhusker-to-be put on display his athletic skills from his leadoff position, including a laser-shot to the gap which ended in a stand-up triple. He also threw strikes from CF and covered ground well defensively. Can’t wait to see what Darin Erstad does with this blank of canvas in Lincoln the next few years.

Like a Boldt of Lightning. Future Nebraska Cornhusker Ryan Boldt is having a race with the umpire on this triple.

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- C Kyle Devin, Yankees.

Talk about fitting in perfect with that Stony Brook “get dirty” mentality, this guy fits the bill to a T. In an Area Code’s week where it appears as if people will be able to steal bases at will, Devin impressively threw out three would-be stealers, including back-to-back theft attempts to start the 4th inning. He also put up a solid block of the dish when A.J. Puk tried to score from 2nd base on a single.

You've been Stony Brook'd! Future Seawolf Kyle Devin did a great job of blocking the plate from Florida-bound A.J. Puk here.

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- 2B Ronell Coleman, White Sox.

The diamond-in-the-rough mighty mite put on a show at the plate and in the field. He got a single and walk in his first two at-bats and also made a few great plays at second, including one where he charged a ball and went sideways making the throw to first. Unfortunately, it was in the last inning of the game when I had already put my camera away. Crap! At 5’5″, Coleman is uncommitted for now, but you have to like his chances of making it to our college game since guys his size don’t normally get selected with a high-round draft pick. But as Coleman himself has said, “They can measure height, but they can’t measure heart.” I like this dude.

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GAME THREE

Nationals – 120 000 1 -  4   6   2

Rangers – 012 012  5 – 11 13 5

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In a showdown of what is expected to be two of the better teams in these Area Code Games, the Texas-based Rangers had enough offense to overcome it’s poor defense and take down the Southeast-based Nationals 11-4.

The teams were locked in a 3-3 game in the 5th inning when unheralded Garrett Luna strode to the dish and immediately sent a moon shot onto Cheapskate Hill beyond the left field 348 sign, tucked neatly inside the fair pole. That gave the Rangers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

They added a few insurance runs in the bottom of the 6th inning after Corey Simpson and Tres Barrera started the inning with a walk and a double respectively. An RBI flyout by Stone Garrett and an RBI single by Nick Buckner immediately followed, both scoring runs, and the game was theirs.

TCU-bound reliever Ryan Burnett came into the game in the 5th inning and put the locks on the Nationals, going 6-up, 6-down in the first two innings of work. He eventually gave up a single run in the top of the 7th. But the biggest drama of the game came in that same 7th inning when Burnett allowed the bases to be loaded and still clinging to a 6-4 lead. Worst of all to his predicament, Ole Miss commit Dalton Dulin came to the plate, having already been on a hot streak in these first two days of the ACG. But Burnett was able to induce Dulin into a 4-6-3 double play (even though he probably beat out the throw to 1st) and that kept the win intact. That was a clutch play for those Texas boys.

Michael Kopech gets hounded by the ESPN cameras after another solid inning of work. The 2014 grad pitched beyond his years in his three innings of work with unbelievable bite on his curve-ball and slider.

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Houston commit Corey Simpson (with the bat, backing away from the plate) waves in Virginia-bound Cavan Biggio to home after a wild pitch scores him from 3rd.

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Garrett Luna rounds third after his 5th inning home run went 365-feet over the left-field wall giving the Rangers the lead for good.

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WHO IMPRESSED:

- Garrett Luna, 1B, Rangers.

Not only did the solid-built slugger blast the go-ahead home run, but he also added a walk to the ledger and was a very vocal first baseman, which you know coaches love. He shouted encouragement to every pitcher who toed the rubber and also barked signals to the defense all game long. Last I saw, Luna was uncommitted to a college, but you know he’s going to be a big “get” for somebody… unless he goes pro.

- Relief pitcher Ryan Burnett, Rangers.

The TCU Horned Frogs are getting a good one folks. The stout lefty was throwing low 90s heat and showed a presence on the mound. He worked both sides of the dish very well. The only problem was he showed some frayed nerves in the 7th and final frame, as stated above, and probably benefitted from a questionable double play that ended the game.

The next great Horned Frog is here. Coach Jim Schlossnagle has a real stud in the fold with Ryan Barnett, who was efficient today, uncorking a dominating fastball and great off-speed stuff. He may not be a Matt Purke yet, but he holds great promise.

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GAME FOUR

Royals – 000 110 2 – 4  7  2

Brews – 301 000 3 -  7  8  2

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With the NoCal-based Athletics going down to defeat this morning, this game was the battle for the West. Turns out that Southern California rules this side of the continent… for now.

The SoCal-based Brewers escape the pesky Northwest-based Royals, overcoming their final inning rally to tie the game with a bottom of the 7th rally of their own to pull out a nip-and-tuck win which provided the biggest drama of the Area Code Games so far.

The boys from the Southland looked like they had things well in hand by going into the 7th and final inning with a 4-2 lead, but the Royals scratched and clawed for two runs, cooly capped by a pair of two-out RBI singles from Stefan Van Horn and Logan Ice to knot things up at four apiece. (I mean, come on, who can’t LOVE the game-tying hit coming off the bat of Logan Ice?)

But the Brewers didn’t freak out, they just merely went to work on Royals reliever Layne Bruner and got the necessary runs to put the check-mark in the win column.

The last at-bat was jump-started by USC-bound talent Ryan McMahon, who culled a walk to kick-start things. Two batters later a familiar name came to the rescue: Alexander Jackson. Just like in Monday’s 2-0 win over the White Sox, A.J. got the key, game-deciding hit when his team needed it. With a man on second, Jackson reached out and touched a Layne Brunner fastball, sending the horse-hide into centerfield. McMahon never lost stride, rounding 3rd and sailing unencumbered into home with the winning run. (Due to Area Code Game rules, the remainder of the bottom of the 7th inning was played and included a rocket-shot of a triple from UCLA-bound slash-and-dasher Gosuke Katoh… niiiiice)

The Brewers stay unbeaten on the week, stating their case for the best collection of talent in this year’s Area Code Games. We’ll see.

Right-hander Parker Bugg gets a handshake from "manager" Josh Belovsky after getting four Ks in two innings of work for the Brewers today.

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The aptly named Logan Ice got the game-tying single for the Royals today. Making things even more impressive is that Ice came in as a pinch hitter cold off the bench. See? Ice... cold off the bench? I know, I'm a dork. Sorry.

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But after Ice tied the game in the top half of the final frame, Brewer leadoff man Ryan McMahon got the rally started with this ball four call.

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Two batters later, our man Jackson (Alexander Jackson, that is) ripped this shot off of Royals reliever Layne Bruner.

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... which skipped just under the glove of Royals second baseman Michael Sexton, whose body language says it all about this play. Ryan McMahon was allowed to score from second base because of this game-winning hit.

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WHO IMPRESSED:

- Alexander Jackson, pinch hitter, Brewers.

It was awesome to see the dude stride to the dish in a clutch situation off the bench and deliver for the second day in a row. Hey Brewer brain-trust, you sure you don’t want this guy to start instead of come off the bench? As Dickie V. would say, he’s a “P.T.Per… a prime time performer.”

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- Steven Gonsalves, starting pitcher, Brewers.

The 6’5 southpaw with the extra long, old-school windup went the first three innings and showed little weaknesses while also hitting 90-93 on his fastball. The only single the San Diego commit gave up was a bunt single which 3rd baseman Kevin Franklin couldn’t field cleanly. He did give up a walk and plunk a batter as well. But he went 11-up, 9-down in his starting appearance.

From his classic throw-back of a windup to his low-90s delivery, there's a lot to like about the way Steven Gonsalves pitches.

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- J.P. Crawford, leadoff hitter, Brewers.

Once again, the USC-commit was golden at the top of the lineup. His first two at-bats were a single and a stand-up triple. Crawford went on to score both times, before being pulled in the 4th inning. Love this guy’s hustle all over the field. A lead-by-example type for coach Frank Cruz at Dedeaux Field in the years to come.

Two things here. 1- You gotta love J.P. Crawford's old-school look of showing a lot of stocking in the way he wears his uniform, and 2- Note his odd lead-off of first base, where he's well off the basepath.

NOTES:

- Tweet of the Day:

Chris Kohler, a LHP from Rancho Cucamonga who is on the SoCal-based Brewers roster, had this humorous look at his day ahead for his Twitter followers:

- Don’t “Take Me Out To The Ballgame”:

Despite playing seven inning games, there has yet to be a “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” played between the top and bottom of the 7th frame. Blasphemy.

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- The 4-Star QB.

It was interesting to note that Rangers outfielder Cody Thomas – an Oklahoma commit – is not only a highly-regarded baseballer taking part in the most prestigious high school showcase in the country, but he is also a four-star quarterback for Heritage High School in Colleyville, Texas. He even took part in the Elite 11 Camp this summer, which is a highly-regarded Quarterback camp. He could become the next big two-way star in the college ranks for the Big Red.

I'm ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille (google the phrase you youngsters). Cody Thomas (right) has the classic looks of a quarterback and outfield hero just ready to burst onto national prominence. So do us a favor C.T., don't sign on to play pro baseball just yet. Enjoy some college life first.

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- Playing a Full Seven, No Matter What.

As you notice from Game Three above, even though a home team may have the lead going into the bottom of the 7th and last inning, they still play the half-inning. That’s why the Rangers increased their lead from 6-4 to a rather-ugly 11-4. Maybe the lack of motivation hindered the Nationals from holding the Rangers scoreless in the meaningless inning.

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- A Good Brian Wilson Copycat:

The winner of the Best Beard Award goes to this Washington Senators assistant coach who was in the 1st base coaching box today. He’s got that Brian Wilson thing growin’. Now, go ahead and dye it black and you’ll be almost there.:

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- In Harm’s Way For Her Art:

Just to show you how lax things are at the Area Code Games, this photog for Baseball America was able to set up shop along the backstop behind home plate at certain times today. Of course, part of the problem with that is standing in full danger of having a foul ball lasered on your forehead without any chance of avoidance. Luckily, the young lass wasn’t pegged by an errant foul tip at all and came away from the Area Code Games unscathed. (Although, a huge thumbs-down to BA, I checked out their website and didn’t see any Area Code Games photographs or portfolios on the site. Give this chick a forum for her art.)

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Okay, more from the Area Code Games on Wednesday, I’m hittin’ the rack.

G’night.

 

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