Detroit — The best of the best assembled for a star-studded showdown Thursday night in the 33rd Annual Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association East-West All-Star Game.
The East team boasted a pair of players who were drafted in the 2014 MLB Draft in West Bloomfield’s Dazon Cole (selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 29th round) and Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood’s Grant Reuss (picked by the Detroit Tigers in the 31st round).
The West team had none. But none of that mattered as the West squad flexed its muscle early, assuming control with a five-run second inning before coasting to a 19-7 victory in front of 1,265 fans at Comerica Park.
East starter Garrett Schilling of Madison Heights Bishop Foley was hit hard in the first inning, and the West continued to mash the ball in the second.
After back-to-back one-out singles by Beal City’s Ty Rollin and Ludington’s Chad Large, Portland’s Tanner Allison hit a single to right. The throw came in to home and Rollin held up at third, but Allison got hung up near second. Allison ended up safe at second, Large advanced to third and Rollin beat the throw back to the plate to tie the game at 1-1.
Jackson’s Tyler Kyro quickly snapped the tie with a two-run single through the left side and Clinton’s T.J. Baker followed with a triple down into the left field corner to score Kyro from first. Berrien Springs’ Kyle Rago capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly to right for a 5-1 lead.
While the second was Schilling’s undoing, it was hardly his worst moment. Wearing protective glasses after being struck in the cheek by a line drive that required surgery during the season, Schilling got another near scare as Battle Creek Lakeview’s Jake Bivens drove a fastball right back up the middle near Schilling’s head. Schilling was able to duck and get his glove on it, deflecting the ball to Cole at short who threw out Bivens at first on a close play.
One batter later, St. Joesph’s A.J. Montoya recorded the first hit of the game with a deep blast to left-center field on a hanging breaking ball for a stand-up triple. Schilling was able to get through the inning unscathed, though, as Temperance Bedford’s Brad Boss lined out to center for the third out.
“I stuck my mitt up and almost caught it. (Cole) made a great play and stuck with it,” Schilling said. “Then I hung a slider for a triple. I got out of that inning.
“They just hit the inside fastball in the second inning. It wasn’t that I wasn’t missing my spots. They were just turning on it, opening their hips and driving the ball.”
The West tacked on another run in the third on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Tecumseh’s Phil Carey that scored Rockford’s Kory Young, extending the lead to 6-1.
The East shortened the margin in the fifth when Pontiac Notre Dame Prep’s Aidan Cullen sent a two-run home run into the first row of seats in right field to make it 6-3. Cullen’s homer could have done more damage but Lake Orion’s Brad Schaenzer was picked off at second moments earlier.
“I struck out time before that, so I was just trying to get on base. I hit the ball and started booking it toward first. When I rounded it, everyone started going wild and I looked back,” said Cullen, who was named the East MVP after the game.
“It was one of those moments where it’s an unbelievable feeling that you can’t really describe it. Honestly, I just thought it was another base hit. I was very surprised and excited it happened.”
The West added a pair of runs off Detroit Western International’s Luis Chapa in the sixth to make it a five-run game again at 8-3. Carey scored on a passed ball and Kyro drove in his third run of the game with an RBI single to shallow left-center that scored Large from second.
The East chipped away at the West’s lead in the seventh and eighth innings. Wyandotte Roosevelt’s Austin Petravicius cut it to 8-4 with an RBI single in the seventh. Then in the eighth, Plymouth Christian Academy’s Daniel Jipping crushed a triple to dead center and scored on Schaenzer’s RBI single through the left side to make it 8-5.
But that’s as close as the East would get. Carey delivered the final blow in the eighth with a bases-clearing double down the right-field line off of Reuss for an 11-5 cushion and all but seal it for the West.
Carey (2-for-4) drove in a game-high five RBIs and was named the West MVP. Kyro added two hits and four RBIs.
Jipping (3-for-4, three RBIs) was the only East player to get more than one hit. He also gave the East its lone lead of the game, 1-0, on an RBI single to right in the first that scored Sterling Heights Stevenson’s Zack McGuire from third.
“Everyone is good here so I knew I could get at least one hit, maybe two. Three was pretty sweet, especially that one to deep center. I didn’t think that was going to happen,” Jipping said.
“It was a great honor to be here. Congrats to the West squad for kicking our butts pretty good.”
James Hawkins is a freelance writer.