Under perfect skies that screamed baseball, nearly every seat was filled to see the area’s best ball players at the Blue Water Area All-Star Game.
The fans coming from as south as Anchor Bay and as north as Peck saw early action as the Gold Team erased a 6-1 deficit with an eight-run sixth inning en route to a 12-9 win.
Helping the Gold Team in the win was Port Huron’s Dallas Mitchell, who hit his first-ever home run with a three run blast to help himself to the game’s MVP honors.
Even more impressive? He did it on a torn ACL.
“I actually didn’t know it was over (the fence) until the first baseman stopped, and the left fielder and center fielder stopped running too,” Mitchell said.
“That’s my last high school at bat.”
Port Huron Northern’s Isaac Raab also ended his high school career on a high note, belting a bases loaded triple with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning to give Gold a 12-8 lead.
The Blue Team got it started with Richmond’s Stefan Fenwick singling in St. Clair’s Riley Gleason, followed with St. Clair’s Josh Markel scoring on an error in the following at bat. Anchor Bay’s Zach Capaldi scorched a triple off the right field wall to score Yale’s Jordan Craig and Fenwick, and Sandusky’s Brandon Potter later brought in Capaldi to make it 5-0.
Blue Team’s pitching was also stout, starting the game with four combined shutout innings between Markel and Richmond’s Matt Skoryanc.
Thanks to Memphis, the Gold Team got on the board in the fifth inning when Yellowjackets second baseman Brenden Francis brought in Yellowjackets shortstop Dillon Mitchell. Gold Team also had stout pitching in Port Huron Northern’s Anthoney Deittrick threw a shutout third and fourth inning with a pair of strikeouts.
Brown City’s Joe Hagner bumped up Blue Team’s lead to 6-1 in the top of the sixth with a two out RBI single, bringing in Imlay City’s Orlando Ramirez.
The bottom of the sixth is when Gold made their move, starting with Northern’s Brandon Doan two RBI hit to bring in Jayson LaRowe and Marysville’s Austin Paterson.
GTC East memories
Two Greater Thumb Conference East teams were well-represented after a pair of memorable seasons.
In the Gold Team’s dugout, Nolan Addington, Brenden Francis, Dillon Mitchell and Jacob Walsh got to wear the blue and yellow Memphis jersey one final time after their second GTC East conference title.
“It’s my last time playing with these guys,” Francis said before the game. “It’s going to be a fun time. We’re all going to different schools, so it’s one last game with the bros.”
The quartet of Yellowjackets is a small sample of the senior leadership Memphis had this season as they boasted 14 seniors on their roster.
Another senior-driven team was Brown City, who captured a Division 4 district title to cap off its season. Despite the athletic talent of the Green Devils upperclassmen, it was their first title in any sport this year.
“It was a big relief finally getting that title and hanging a banner in our hometown,” Brown City catcher Eric Burgess said. “We have a lot to remember.”
Even beyond baseball season, the graduated Green Devils athletes do have quite the memories to look back on for years to come.
“We all played as a team,” Green Devils shortstop Joe Hagner said. “It was a strong brotherhood we created, and that helped us win games and a district title.”
Like father, like son
What’s a Father’s Day without spending at least a few minutes thinking about, well, dad?
Port Huron Northern alumnus and all-star game assistant coach Nate Manis did so by looking back on his first season as a Huskies coach alongside his dad, Tom.
“Oh it was a blast,” Nate Manis said. “He coached me when I was in high school so I’m used to sharing the field with him, but it was a lot of fun.”
Of course, the feel of being a player versus a coach is a tad different.
“As a player, what he says goes,” Nate Manis said. “Here it was a little more of an even stage, but he obviously still has seniority.”
While Father’s Day can result in gifts for dad, Nate Manis reflected on everything his dad gave him within the game of baseball throughout his successful career.
“He taught me to love the game and all the qualities that go with it,” Nate Manis said. “He’s the first one that taught me to love the game, that’s for sure.”