DETROIT – The West All-Stars earned bragging rights over the East at the annual Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association (MHSBCA) All-Star game for a second year in a row at Comerica Park on Tuesday night.
The West erased an early 4-2 deficit with five runs in the third inning and then blew the game open with an eight-run sixth. The West side batted around the order in the inning to take a commanding 16-6 lead.
Its bullpen held the East scoreless in the final three innings to close out the victory.
“It wasn’t how we drew it up,” East All-Stars and Birmingham coach Jim Crosby said, laughing. “They had that one big inning that killed us. We couldn’t get anybody out, everybody got a chance to pitch and a couple guys struggled.”
Crosby said the East side roster featured 11 starting pitchers and he wanted to try to use all of them. He ended up throwing all but one in nine innings Tuesday.
“When you are only going one inning it’s hard to get in a rhythm, but we played hard,” he said.
Avondale’s AJ Susick was tagged the hardest. He didn’t make it out of the sixth after giving up seven runs on five hits and two walks. Shepherd’s Christopher Williams hit a two-run single off the Yellowjackets senior and Zeeland East’s Josh Snyder knocked in two runs with a double.
“They got timely hits, they hit the ball and the difference was their balls found holes (in the field) and ours didn’t,” Groves’ Jake Balicki said. “It was obviously a tough lineup, you know, they were good.”
Balicki was one of only two East pitchers to throw a scoreless inning while not allowing a baserunner. He retired all three batters he faced in the seventh. Bloomfield Hills 's Gabe Berman only needed six pitches to get three outs in the fifth.
Groves senior Balicki was also the only player on the team to pick up two hits. His multi-hit game and scoreless inning made him an easy choice for the East MVP award.
“It’s kind of surprising, wasn’t expecting to get it, obviously means a lot playing with the best players in Michigan,” he said.
Troy shortstop Tommy Eng, who played second base for the East, didn’t have a hard time putting the loss in perspective.
“It was pretty fun; it was a once in a lifetime thing,” Eng said. “You never get this back. It’s a good story to tell your grandkids someday – you got to play in Comerica with all the best players in the state. It’s kind of nice.”
Around the Bases
- Birmingham Groves' Jake Balicki went 2-for-3 with two runs. He pitched a perfect seventh inning, striking out one batter.
- infielder Ryan Bazner had a hit in his only plate appearance in the eighth inning. He pitched a third of an inning in the sixth and gave up three hits and a run.
- Andover pitcher Gabe Berman pitched a perfect fifth inning and went 1-for-2 with a double.
- L’Anse Creuse North pitcher Daniel Clouse gave up two runs in the second inning and went 0-for-2.
- Troy Athens shortstop Tommy Eng was 0-for-1 with two runs. He scored after being hit by a pitch to open the game and later he scored a run as a pinch-runner.
- University of Liggett pitcher Alex Daar had two strikeouts in the first inning and was 1-for-2 at the plate.
- outfielder Cameron Gibson was 1-for-4 with a single in the sixth inning.
- catcher Anthony Gonzalez was 1-for-2 with a run. He was also hit by a pitch in the fifth inning.
- infielder Randy Kuzdak was 1-for-1 with a walk.
- Anchor Bay pitcher Anthony Misiewicz was 1-for-3 with an RBI single in the second inning. He came in for one third of an inning in the eighth inning and recorded the final out.
- Auburn Hills Avondale pitcher AJ Susick was 0-for-2 at the plate and was roughed up in two thirds of an inning. He gave up seven runs on five hits and two walks.
- For the West squad, outfielder Logan Regnier went 1-4 with a run scored and Matt Stojkov pitched two innings. He gave up two runs on three hits and struck out two.