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.
As you’ll see below, the dreaded kissing-your-sister tie reared its ugly head for the first time as the Reds and Royals played to a stalemate. But there were still many transcendent performances that we’ll get into here in a bit. First, I thought I needed to explain a few more things about the Area Code Games culture. So here you go…
FIVE MORE THINGS ABOUT THE AREA CODE GAMES.
1- There are college coaches and pro scouts everywhere.
Drinking cups and drinking bottles soon turn into spit cups and spit bottles due to all the smokeless tobacco being “enjoyed” in the stands. It’s got to be the most well-attended gathering of talent and talent evaluators in one place all year.
2- It’s as quiet as a mausoleum.
It’s weird to go to games and hear just a smattering of applause by parents and girlfriends when a player smacks an RBI or makes a solid defensive play. The only real applause you hear is for a diving catch or the rare time there is a home run, which will inspire a few audible “whoas” from the stands.
3- Yep, 8:00am games.
Starting on Monday, there are 8am games each day. For a night owl like me, I look at the schedule and see that there are going to be 8am games and think, “Aye-yaye-yaye.” The first two days of the ACG they have had player evaluations beginning at 8am and the games starting at noon. Monday starts the 8am games fun. I’m not sure I’ll make any of those games.
4- Keeping a scorecard is a challenge.
Starting lineups are merely a suggestion here. It’s all pretty lax, so coaches substitute pretty freely, especially in the last two to three innings. Oftentimes, players that were taken out early on are re-entered as pinch hitters and pinch runners. I keep a scorecard as best as I can, but often have to say “screw it” by the end of the games.
5- The teams are split into sections of the country.
I forgot that I haven’t explained to you guys how the teams are organized. Here’s the breakdown of the eight teams:
- Chicago White Sox – Midwest
- Cincinnati Reds – Four corners, Hawaii
- Kansas City Royals – Pacific Northwest
- Milwaukee Brewers – Southern California
- New York Yankees – Northeast
- Oakland Athletics – Northern California
- Texas Rangers – Texas, Louisiana
- Washington Nationals – Southeast, Virginia
There are a few crossovers, but for the most part these breakdowns of players hold true. Okay, now onto the games and the stars…
Nationals – 000 120 0 - 3 4 4
Brewers. – 010 102 0 - 4 4 3
It seems to be a reoccurring theme here in Long Beach this week: the team that issues more walks ends up losing. That certainly was the case here in Game Four as the Nationls’ arms corps was plagued by fits of wildness, issuing 11 walks in all. The Brewers? Pfft, just one measly free pass among their three pitchers used.
Even still, the Brewers had to fight from behind since their bats went nearly completely quiet for most of the game. Down 3-2 going into the bottom of the sixth inning, the Brewers finally took the lead for good when pinch hitter Adam Kerner (San Diego) strode to the dish and parked a Ryan Weathers (a 2018 grad) offering over the left field wall, scoring himself and Brice Turang (LSU commit) for a lead they would not give up.
Earlier, the Nationals pulled the same two-run homer trick on the Brewers when the well-named Jeter Downs (Miami) cranked a two-run shot off of Oregon State-bound Keven Abel. That gave the Nationals a brief 3-2 lead through five innings.
The Nationals’ four errors didn’t help things as the Brewers scored with the help of four walks in the second inning and an error and a walk in the fifth inning.
The biggest oohs and ahs of the day came from Brewers starting pitcher Hunter Greene, who dealt upper-90s heat almost effortlessly. At one point he threw a very borderline strike/ball pitch that had both he and catcher Hagan Danner leaning toward the dugout after they thought they had the third out. But the biggest intrigue about it all was the fact that he registered triple digits on the radar gun. Greene showed not only an elite power arm but also some deft off-speed stuff. His curve could use a little more bite, but I don’t think the scouts are going to hassle it for now. Not when they’re eyes are bugging over his fastball speed.
Oh by the way, Greene is committed to play for John Savage at UCLA, but the chances of his actually showing up on campus have got to be slim. He’ll be offered the kitchen sink to sign a major league contract out of high school.
Reds… 000 004 0 - 4 3 1
Royals. 001 120 0 - 4 8 2
Man alive, if the Royals miss winning the Area Code championship (and the $5000 bonus check per player that comes with it) by a half-game because of this tie game, they are going to be cursing themselves for years. This was one of those occasions where that famous “Harvard Beats Yale, 29-29” headline comes to mind. (Google it kids)
The Northwest-based Royals were cruising along, no problemo, taking a 4-0 lead late into the game. In fact, they were just six outs away from the first no-hitter in ACG play since 1996… and then the wheels came completely off. Like, all four of them at once.
Peyton Fuller, who is bound for Oregon if not the pros, had already pitched a four-up, three-down fifth inning and looked stout. But for some reason, things would make a huge 180 on him an inning later. It started with him striking out leadoff hitter Travis Moore, but catcher Jacob Terao couldn’t handle the dirt ball and Moore was able to make it to first base. That must’ve shook up Fuller because he then went on to give up a single, a walk and a bases-loaded walk in the next three batters. (Oh, and yes, that single between first and second was the first given up in the game by the Royal pitchers.)
After a passed ball scored another run, an RBI flyout to left field pulled the Reds to within one run. That marked the end of Fuller’s stint on the mound. Jeremy Yelland came on in relief but after a strikeout, a grounder to deep in the hole between shortstop and third base by J.T. Stanley allowed the tying run to come across and knot the game.
Then, to make matters even more painful, the Royals got runners in scoring position in each of the last two innings but came up snake eyes. The final out of the game was from the bat of Jacob Terao (uncommitted), who lasered a shot right at Reds first basemanJacob Gonzalez. Another foot or two to the left or right and it would’ve been a jog-off win for the Royals because pinch-runner Jesse Franklin was on third base at the time.
Nine-hole hitter Jason Willow did his part for the Royals. He scored twice on the day, the second of which was a solo home run to left field to start the fifth inning and give the Royals a 3-0 lead at the time. Earlier in the game he started the third inning with a walk and a stolen base, before coming around to score on a single by Jonny Homza, who is from Anchorage, Alaska and headed to play ball for Hawaii.
Best pitcher of the game? Look no further than the rather tall and rather wooly Jacob Pfennings. The 6’6 Post Falls, Idaho native threw the third and fourth innings for the Royals and both times went three-up, three-down. Of the six outs, two were strikeouts, one was a pop-out to first base and the other three were groundouts. Pfennings never let a ball leave the infield, while hitting 90 and 91 on the guns. His off-speed stuff was decent, including an 81mph slider. But more than anything else, his wild mane probably threw off the concentration of the opposing batters more than anything. As a bald man, I’m jealous.
Rangers – 5
White Sox – 7
Yep, sorry. Had to bail on this one. See, I play hockey on Sunday nights, so I had to cut out of the Area Code Games to make my game. Not only that, but for some reason the ACGs aren’t adhering to their usual policy of limiting games to seven innings or two hours, whichever comes first. With the pitchers in this year’s Area Code Games somehow seemingly allergic to throwing strikes, games are going much longer than normal.
Either way, the Rangers’ Ryan Vilade went 3-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored. Connor Uselton had a two-run hit and on the mound Reid Detmers went 2.2 innings with five Ks to lead the Sox mound corps. I saw that on the ACG twitter feed.
Yankees – 3
Athletics – 1
Ditto on this game as well. Hell, according to what I read, this one didn’t end till 11:30pm west coast time. Keep in mind the Yankees are a Northeast-based team, so most of their players are still on east coast time. This is almost cruel.
None-the-less, the boys from the east coast took down the Northern Californians in this one. Well done guys. From what the Area Code Games twitter feed said, John Kodros (an LSU commit) and Shane Muntz (Wake Forest) combined for seven Ks in their 6.0 innings of work. Very nicely done.