Throughout the season, many of the participants in Wednesday night’s 39th Annual Old Timer’s Baseball Association High School All-Star Games faced each other in league play.
But at Kircher/Municipal Field, some former opponents became teammates as high school seniors from across the mid-Michigan area put on the cleats for the last time in their prep careers.
“This is a privilege to be out here, just coming out here and playing with all these guys and we’ve known these guys forever,” St. Johns senior Max Ballinger said. “All these guys you play conference ball with. I mean, you battle against them in the regular season and it’s nice to just talk with them about games you played earlier on in the season and stuff and nice to get to know them on a personal basis instead of just competing against them.”
Ballinger’s North team won the second game of the night 9-6 over the South, while the West captured the first game against the East by the score of 10-6.
The first matchup pitted high school seniors from some of the area’s Division 3 and 4 schools.
After a first inning that saw a combined seven runs scored, the West scored the next seven runs to take control .
Portland St. Patrick’s Jerrid Smith, who was named the Most Valuable Player of the first game, went 3 for 3 with a double, two RBIs, a run scored and a stolen base for the West.
“It means a lot. It’s a big deal,” Smith said. “I didn’t expect to get it, but it feels good to get it.”
Corey Hungerford of Fulton was 2 for 2 with an RBI and a run scored as was Portland’s Zack Pung.
Smith hit a two-RBI double in the third as part of a three-run inning for the West, and Hungerford and Pung each added RBIs along with David Simon of St. Patrick in a four-run fifth.
Keith Lyon of Bath, Derrick McAvoy of Laingsburg and Garyt Forman of Perry all went 2 for 3 with RBIs and Williamston’s Nick Porter had two RBIs for the East in the loss.
The night proved to be extra special for players in the first game, as many had never played baseball in downtown Lansing as part of the Dean Shippey Diamond Classic. The tournament usually invites just one school from the CMAC while extending the majority of its invitations to CAAC teams.
“It was really cool. Half of us haven’t played on a stage like this before,” Hungerford said. “We didn’t get to play under the lights, which would have been sweet, but it was still a great feeling to play in front of more people.”
Cody Greger of Owosso was the Most Valuable Player of the second game, finishing 2 for 2 with an RBI and two runs scored to lead the North.
Ballinger also had two RBIs for the North and Blake Dahlstrom of Grand Ledge had an RBI and pitched a scoreless final inning to earn the save.
“That was fun, and it was fun to watch (Dahlstrom) throw in the bullpen,” said St. Johns coach Jake Parker, who coached the North . “One kid caught him in the bullpen, one kid got to catch him out (on the field), so that’s fun as a catcher to be able to catch a kid that throws like that. You feel pretty good when you’ve got a lead and put that guy in there to finish it.”
Jeremy West of Eaton Rapids hit a two-run home run in the fourth to lead the South , but the North scored four runs in the final inning to take the lead.