Area Code Games – Thursday Wrap

By Eric Sorenson. Posted on August 9th, 2012 in National stuff
 

Another hot and sunny day welcomed the fans to Blair Field in Long Beach.

Okay Stitch-Heads, our mid-summer fix is nearly done with. Today, we made it through the fifth day of the 2012 Area Code Games in Long Beach and now have only one more day to go. Sniffle. Sniffle… it’s gone by way too fast, I know.

In 2011, the Midwest-based Royals ran the table as the only unbeaten team in the field of eight. This time around, only the Southern California-based Brewers have the chance to match that feat. Here’s how the standings look going into Friday’s last three games:

1- Brewers, 4-0

2- Rangers, 3-1

2- White Sox, 3-1

4- Reds, 2-2

5- Athletics, 1-2-1

5- Yankees, 1-2-1

7- Royals, 1-4

7- Nationals, 1-4

The Brewers and the Rangers face off tomorrow in the third and last game of the day, and as you can see, the championship of the Area Code Games will be on the line. (Not that the hundreds of scouts and money-making baseball organizations give a rat’s ass). Oh, but if the Rangers win that game, and the White Sox beat the A’s in the day’s second game, the ACG will end in a three-way tie.

And if that happens then the BCS computers will decide the champion.

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GAME ONE:

White Sox – 7

Rangers – 4

Back on Monday, in their first game of the week the Midwest-based White Sox were shut out 2-0 by the Brewers. Considering they’ve now scored 10, 14 and seven runs in their three successive games, that seems like a long time ago. Appparently Notre Dame-bound Ryan Lidge was the difference, hitting a 3-run double to account for the difference. Also, the Texas-based Rangers hit the loss column for the first time this week, dropping to 3-1.

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GAME TWO:

Athletics – 4

Yankees – 4

Yep, as you might recall, Area Code Games which are tied at the end of seven innings just simply end in a tie. Kiss your sister. The A’s actually had a chance to win the game in the final frame with the bases loaded, but couldn’t push across the winning run. Crap!

The Athletics’ Jacob Gatewood smacked the sixth home run of the week at cavernous Blair Field, a three-run bomb-diddily-om.

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GAME THREE:

Reds – 000 002 0 – 2  4  2

Royals – 000 003 0 – 3  6  1

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When you come from the land where a hairy 10-foot beast named Sasquatch walks through people’s backyards in the pitch-black of moonless nights, not a lot of things are going to scare you. Not a no-hit bid, not a late deficit, not a little rain on your collar. Hell, the Pacific Northwest is where Rambo ran wild through the mountains away from Brian Dennehy in “First Blood” for chrissakes.

So the Northwest-based Royals took a long time to come around, even succumbing to a 2-0 deficit going into the 6th inning. But when they decided to get the wheels rolling… Katie bar the door. They busted up the Reds’ no-hitter in the 5th inning, then, after giving up those two runs in the top of the 6th inning, the Rain Belters overcame the Red Leggings with three runs and then held on to pull out an unlikely win.

After giving up two runs on just one hit in the top of the 6th inning, the Royals got back-to-back singles from Tommy Lane and Lex Kaplan and a groundout from Trace Loehr, to put men at 2nd and 3rd for Jack Meggs. That’s when the Bellevue, Washington native sliced the game-tying two-run double down the right field line. A batter later Michael Sexton put a charge in a ball that found terra firma, sending Meggs plateward with the winning run.

Reliever John Pomeroy came out of the pen to lock things down in the top of the 7th (and final) inning, giving the Royals a 3-2 win.

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WHO IMPRESSED

- Jack Meggs, CF, Royals.

Just another coaches son who is mentally tough and a real grinder. As the prodigy of Washington coach Lindsay Meggs, Jack got the game-tying hit, scored the game-winning run and also made a trio of really great defensive plays in the meadow to help secure the win. By the end of the game, the dudes uniform was a palate for dirt and grime and blood and guts. Impressive.

Jack Meggs scores the winning run for the Royals in their 3-2 victory over the Reds.

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- ‘lolana Akau, catcher, Reds

You can’t fault the power-packed 5’10, 170 pound backstop. He smacked a single and a double in his only two at-bats of the game, but got no support from his mates and didn’t cross the plate either time. While I was sitting with San Diego coach Rich Hill, Akau popped up on a steal attempt and unleashed a potent cannon-armed throw to second base that left both of us saying, “Dayyyyy-yum!” (Well, I said that, coach Hill is from a faith-based school so he didn’t curse).

The Waipahu Flash! ‘lolana Akau showed a lot of promise for the Reds today. Wonder where he’ll end up for college?

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OTHER PICS.

Reds starting pitcher (and Kansas commit) Denton Keys is the only college/high school player I’ve seen who wears his hat so high up on his head.

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You’d think at a high-profile showcase like this there wouldn’t be much “coaching” involved. But the Reds assistant Russ Wright had words of instruction for his catcher Matt Decker each time he came off the field.

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Coiled and ready to unleash. 6’5″ righty John Pomeroy closed things down with a scoreless 7th and final inning after the Royals offense took the lead in the 6th inning.

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After going 5-0 last year, the Royals were relieved to finally get their first win of the week on their last day of play. (They don’t play on Friday)

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GAME FOUR:

Brewers – 400 003 0 – 7  10  0

National – 003 000 0 – 3   4  1

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This one took on an early identity. Future Ole Miss hurler Cheyne Bickel got roughed up in a hurry by the SoCal-based Brewers. It only took about 20 pitches for them to send some real lasers into the meadow and plate four runs. In the bottom of the first inning, Cal State Fullerton-bound Phil Bickford struck out the side 1-2-3. Impressively, the victims were Ole Miss-bound Dalton Dulin, Miami-bound Matt McPhearson and LSU-bound Nick Longhi.

The Nationals made it a game again with three runs in the bottom of the 3rd, helped out by a pair of walks and a two-base throwing error. But then reliever Blake Taylor came around and got three straight strikeouts to keep the lead at 4-3.

Three more runs by the Brewers in the top of the 6th put the game on ice. UCLA-bound Luke Persico came in and stroked a two-run single just past future Pac 12 rival Brett Hanewich’s glove at third base, adding more of a cushion for the Brewers to cruise to the end with.

A huge boon to the Brewers yeast was the fact that the Nationals’ top two in the order, the very dangerous Dalton Dulin (Ole Miss) and Matt McPhearson (Miami) both struck out all three times at the dish. Dulin’s Ks were all looking and McPhearson’s were all swinging.

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WHO IMPRESSED:

- RHP Phil Bickford, Brewers.

As mentioned above, that first inning mow-down was impressive enough, but the Fullerton star-to-be didn’t stop there, getting the next three hitters to go down in the 2nd inning 1-2-3 as well, though not by strikeout.

Casting a Titan-sized shadow. Phil Bickford struck out some high-profile hitters in the first inning and sat down three straight in the 2nd inning as well.

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- Ian McKinney, RHP, Nationals.

After the meltdown from Nats starter Cheyne Bickford, Ian Mac came in, kept a cool head and was very efficient. McKinney issued a leadoff walk, then retired the next six batters in a row, three by strikeout. Though only about 5’10″ and 165 or so, he pitches like he’s 6’5″ and has no fear. His fastball was upper 80s and had the Brewers flailing at his off-speed stuff.

Future Central Florida Knight Ian McKinney was the only effective Reds pitcher on the day.

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- Alexander Jackson, Bat Beast, Brewers.

This is becoming a broken record linebacker-built slugger. I mean, you really gotta see this dude to believe it. He went 3-for-4 with an RBI single in the 1st inning, another single in the 7th, sandwiched around a you-gotta-drug-test-this-guy laser shot stand-up triple which hit about three feet short of a home run to dead center field. The ball never seemed more than 20 feet off the ground either. The phrase Screamin’ Mimi doesn’t do it justice.

Alexander Jackson not only has a presidential name, he’s got the aggressiveness of an evil empire leader, slicing three hits on the day.

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MORE PICS.

After seeing him play this week, it’s become fairly abundant that All-World slugger Nick Longhi will never see the LSU campus. The pros have to be salivating over his abilities. Each time he made contact this week, he’s hit a frozen rope. Just too much power and talent to fall very far in next year’s draft.

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This Reds player will remain unidentified to save from scorn. But call me old-school, I just don’t dig the pants-wrapped-under-the-heel look for baseball pants. What would Ty Cobb think? He’d go in cleats-high to whatever base this guy was covering.

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The Brewers got a few more insurance runs in the 6th inning on this Luke Persico (UCLA) two-run single…

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… but it was by the barest margin as Stanford-bound Brett Hanewich just missed catching up to the grounder.

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NOTES:

- Two Dudes I’m Excited To See Here.

In the summer of 2011, I was invited to Atlanta to cover the MVP Tournament, a four-day showcase for players from inner cities who don’t normally have the chance to play in the big-money tournaments and travel teams. Well two of the players from that MVP Tournament are here at the Area Code Games, OF Corey Ray and 2B Ronell Coleman, who are both from the Simeon Academy and play for Chicago coaching legend Leroy Franklin.

Corey Ray, as I saw him play last summer in the MVP Tournament in Atlanta. He’s getting about 20 times more exposure here at the ACG in Long Beach. Ray is currently committed to play his college years at Louisville.

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Ronell “RoCo” Coleman was also at the MVP Tournament last July. He’s not currently committed to a four-year school, but hopefully this week proved he belongs in college ball somewhere.

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- How to improve your odds.

Talking with San Diego head coach Rich Hill, he told me one of the more unique stats I’ve ever heard about a university. He said one of the factoids which is included in their recruiting video is that USD has a 3-to-1 ratio of females to males at the school. Geez, as if a high grade academic institution in the best weather in the country and a consistent winner of a baseball program weren’t enough. That’s almost running up the score on the recruiting trail.

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- More coach speak.

Got a chance to talk with Trent Pratt, a new assistant coach at BYU. After I told him how Miller Field was the second-best place to watch a college baseball game in the country, he told me he was blown away by the facilities in Provo when he first saw them. He just started the job two weeks ago, coming up to Cougarland with new head coach Mike Littlewood from Dixie College, which is four hours away in St. George, Utah. He sounded hyper-enthusiastic about the opportunity their new staff has in Provo. I’ve always considered the BYU program as one of the sleeping giants in the country.

BYU’s Miller Park. Great setting, great stadium, great scenery. This place has it all. Only thing missing is a winning team, which coach Littlewood and Co. hope to change very soon.

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- No trip down the 405 would be complete without…

Mind-numbing, parking lot-like gridlock?… No. I knew that’s what you were probably thinking. Actually, no drive down the 405 would be complete without a glimpse of the Goodyear Blimp anchored to its moorings in Carson, California:

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Alrighty guys and dolls, we only have one more day of the 2012 Area Code Games left. More from The Blair tomorrow. And yes, since I’m staying up so late tonight, I won’t be there for the 8:30am game on Friday. Sorry.

G’night.

 

COMMENTS:

August 10, 2012 at 3:44 pm
Jim says:

Stitch, Hope my off-topic question doesn’t get shot down, but do you feel like ESPN gives more coverage to the Little League world series than College baseball in general? I’m fortunate enough to live in a great college baseball town, but, with the exception of websites like this one, national coverage is sparse. Sorry to rip off any band-aids, but its frustrating seeing 11 year-olds on the TV listings for 3 straight weeks, wishing I could watch that much College baseball earlier in the year…


August 10, 2012 at 4:44 pm
Go Gophers says:

Keeping this short since I just started, like right this second, looking into graduate school programs at USD….
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Nice view at BYU. Looks great. Adding to bucket list. Eddy D. Field at Pepperdine your #1?
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Speaking of the things Utah related, is Goose in the majors yet….
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Appreciate the off season write ups.


August 10, 2012 at 4:56 pm
Eric Sorenson says:

Thanks for the Q Jim. But I can’t totally agree with you on the Little League thing. Not since ESPNU has added both a Thursday and Monday night game AND added a weekly pre-game show on Thursdays too. The MotherShip has – slowly – stepped things up over the last year or two. Then again, I haven’t watched much of the Little League stuff yet this summer, since I’ve been at the ACG all week.
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And yes Go Gophers, Pepperdine is my personal No. 1 just before BYU.