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.”
The games were the brainchild of Bob Williams, who collaborated with Northern California scouts to put on a showcase that was free of charge and would pit players from different areas of the country, based on their area codes. He also wanted to appease the scouts by having the high schoolers drop their aluminum bats and use nothing but wood bats.
The thing that separates the ACG from other high school showcases is the fact that the MLB scouts themselves are the ones who choose the players who play here in Long Beach. In other words, no daddy’s boys or players who spent extra money so their boy could play, these are just the best of the best. Those who are going to be high on the draft boards after their senior years of high school.
And also, there are upwards of 500 scouts in attendance here at Blair Field during the Area Code Games.
Since the inception of the Area Code Games, 10 of its alums have been chosen first overall in the MLB draft.
- Phil Nevin, Cal State Fullerton, 1989 ACG alum
- Pat Burrell, Miami, 1994 ACG alum
- Adrian Gonzalez, 1999 ACG alum
- Delmon Young, 1999 ACG alum
- Matt Bush, 2003 ACG alum
- Justin Upton, 2003 ACG alum
- Tim Beckham, 2003 ACG alum
- Gerrit Cole, 2007 ACG alum
- Bryce Harper, 2008 ACG alum
- Mark Appel, 2008 ACG alum
- Brady Aiken, 2012 ACG alum
The 2005 Area Code Games had some particularly interesting players taking part as well. Footballers like Toby Gerhart and Colin Kaepernick both played the stitched ball in Long Beach. Also, Clayton Kershaw was a 2005 participant as well.
Now that the history lesson is over, let’s get to today’s Day Three action in Long Beach…
Nationals – 4
Royals – 4
Okay StitchHeads, this game started at 8am west coast time. You know me well enough to figure that is entirely too early for me. Sorry, didn’t see it.
But according to the Area Code Games twitter feed, Jason Willow of the Royals had another good game, posting a pair of RBI on a 1-for-3 day. For the Nats, pitcher Mason Hickman was a man-child, gathering six strikeouts in his 3.0 innings of mound work.
Athletics – 1
White Sox – 4
The White Sox got a two-run circuit clout from Jordan Adell in the 2nd inning and it was all she wrote from there as they cruised to a very efficient, defense and pitching-heavy win over the Northern California-based A’s. If you recall, Adell was lauded back on Saturday for his stellar mound work after getting the start in the White Sox opening game.
Reds….. – 100 200 0 - 3 7 1
Yankees – 002 000 2 - 4 7 2
When is a “walk-off win” not a walk-off win?
When it happens at the Area Code Games.
The Yankees entered the final inning down 3-2 to the Reds, who brought in fireballing righty Trey Dillard (uncommitted) to put the clamps on the Northeastern-based Yanks.
Pinch hitter Adam Hall, who is from Quebec, Canada but committed to play at Texas A&M, met Dillard’s third offering with a sonic shot down to the right field corner, immediately giving the Yankees the tying run in scoring position. Quentin Holmes (Mississippi State) followed that up with a single, moving Hall to third.
With runners at first and third and no outs, Leugim Castillo came up to the plate and stroked a grounder to short. Reds shortstop Drew Swift initiated the double play to Cole Bellinger at second as Hall sprinted home safely, touching the dish as the double play was completed.
The Yanks had tied the game 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh and final inning.
But they weren’t done. TCU commit Tyler Freeman then stroked a two-out single to keep alive hopes of a Yankees win. The players in the Yankees dugout started saying to each other, “Hey, lets get a walk-off today.”
Patrick Winkel (UConn) then slapped a hard bouncer that hit off Dillard’s hip and bounced away from the Reds pitcher. Dillard had time to get the ball and make a throw to first, but his relay bounced in the dirt and away from Jacob Gonzalez (TCU) and down the right field line. Freeman never broke stride from his starting point at first base and he circled around the bases and touched the plate.
The Yankees players went over to mob Freeman, as you would in a walk off. But the Yankees coaching staff reminded them “Guys there is still only two outs. We’ve got more to play.” So they meekly walked back to the dugout to await the final out.
Remember, the Area Code Games play all seven innings, regardless of the score on the scoreboard or the normal rules for baseball scoring. Games like this remind us that winning is not the point of emphasis here this week at the ACG. But sometimes the players reach down into their competitive juices and they can’t help but celebrate a victory.
Brewers – 032 031 0 – 9 9 2
Rangers – 020 000 0 – 2 4 1
Man, remember all that gloss we threw at UCLA-commit Hunter Greene and his 97-98 mile per hour work on the mound yesterday? Well on day three he proved he could get it done at the dish as well, going 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI and a walk thrown in. He displayed incredibly quick hands through the zone and great plate discipline. His RBI bloop single off of Alex Scherff (Arizona State) into right field helped break the game open.
By the way, how cool would it be to see these two continue this mano-a-mano showdown in Pac 12 play in the years to come? Sigh…. but you know it probably won’t happen due to the siren song of the MLB’s golden cash cow. Besides, you know how those scouts and MLB execs get all tingly in their special spot when they see a high school kid throw upper-90s from the mound.
Anyway, the SoCal-based Brewers dominated this one, helped by a rollercoaster start from 6’5 right-hand fireballer Hans Crouse on the mound. Yes, he gave up the two runs in the second inning, but did have many flashes of brilliance in his mound work. Granted, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the big Scandinavian also issued four walks and gave up two singles and a double. He was eventually pulled with two outs in the third inning, and as I have told you guys it’s usually pretty rare for a pitcher to get yanked mid-inning at the Area Code Games.
He was relieved Jermiah Estrada, who went three-up, three-down and four-up, three-down in his two innings of scoreless work. Estrada is a UCLA commit and a rather wispy 6’1, 175. But you could see where he will have more than enough room to grow into his body and his 90mph fastball could well reach into the mid-90s with some added strength in the years ahead.
The Brewers also got a huge performance from Nicholas Pretto, a USC commit, who went 2-for-2 with an RBI double and also a walk in his three at-bats.