West rallies to win prep baseball All-Star game

Al Willman
The Detroit News

Detroit — Hartland’s John Baker and Portage Northern’s Tommy Henry — who are sharing the 2016 Mr. Baseball title — have a bit of a history.

They pitched against each other in the Division 1 state finals, with Baker tossing a 10-inning complete game and winning 4-3.

The Detroit News Dream Team members, however, were teammates Wednesday in the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Game at Comerica Park.

Baker started, throwing a scoreless first inning, before Henry — a Michigan commit — gave up three runs in the second in the West’s 8-3 comeback victory.

“Starting out here and playing at Comerica is just breathtaking,” Baker said. “Co-Mr. Baseball is an honor and I’m glad to share it with Tommy. He’s an amazing pitcher as well.”

Alex Manasa (Farmington) had two hits for the East, and MVP Andrew Szalkowski (Utica Eisenhower) drove in two runs.

West MVP Bryce Kelley (Rockford) had two hits.

After the East’s first two batters reached in the top of the second, Szalkowski’s two-run single put his team on the board.

Szalkowski scored two batters later, when Devin Hager (Walled Lake Northern) reached on an error, extending the inning.

“I wouldn’t want it to end any other way or on any other field, to be honest,” Szalkowski said of his high school career. “It was exciting just to be around these guys all week.”

With two outs in top of the fourth, Henry made a running over-the-shoulder catch of a ball hit by Szalkowski, saving extra bases and ending the inning.

“I thought I had it all,” Szalkowski said. “Apparently he tracked it down. Props to him, though. It was a good play.”

In the bottom of the fifth, the West got its first run. Jason Clark (Bay City Western) was hit by a pitch leading off, stole second, and moved to third on a walk and wild pitch with Tyler Trovinger (Muskegon Mona Shores) at the plate. Gunner Rainey (Adrian Madison) singled in Clark — the first hit for the West — making it 3-1 East.

The next batter, Joey Stewart (Portage Central) walked to load the bases with two outs. Nick Jones (Battle Creek Lakeview) popped out to end the inning, and the threat.

In the bottom of the sixth, the West rallied.

It got a leadoff single from Ridgeway and a double from Kelley to put runners at second and third with nobody out. Avery Mauerer (St. Johns) then singled in Ridgeway to make it 3-2, and Luke Sleeper (Haslett) tied it with a single.

West took the lead on a two-out RBI double from Trovinger, scoring Mauerer.

Matt Gushee (Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett) threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief for the East.

With one out in the the ninth, West third base coach Bill Blakely, Gull Lake’s coach, announced his retirement after 26 years.

Al Willman is a freelance writer.