VISALIA — The collective hitting and pitching prowess of the West team was too much for the East team as they won 9-3 in the 58th Annual East/West High School All-Star Baseball Game on Saturday night.
The game was at Recreation Park where the Visalia Rawhide, the Class A Advanced team of the Arizona Diamondbacks, play their home games. It was a perfect night for baseball with temperatures in the mid-70s and a slight breeze blowing throughout the field.
Hanford catcher Theron Dutra was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after going 1-for-3 with a single, sacrifice fly and three RBIs. He was greeted with a Gatorade shower not long after receiving his award.
“This might be my last baseball game I ever played, so to come out on top and get the MVP, it’s just the cherry on top,” Dutra said in his soaked jersey.
He knocked in Hanford West’s Noah Perez in the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly and then drove in Lemoore’s Jack Foote on a two-run single in the fifth to make it 6-1. As the designated hitter, Dutra was part of a West team that outhit the East 10-4 and drew eight walks to their two.
“I knew coming in he was giving me first-pitch fastball and I came up, he gave it to me and I got into it,” Dutra said.
Before Dutra’s big hits, Lemoore’s Jared Holaday was the first base runner for the West when he drew a two-out walk in the first inning. Foote, who played center field, also walked and then both stole second and third bases. The pair eventually scored to put the team in front 2-0.
“Hanging out with all these guys and getting the win … it’s fun, it’s a blast,” Holaday said. “It’s good competing against these guys. Just go and playing as hard as I can.”
Holaday was 1-for-2 with two runs scored, four stolen bases and a walk. Foote finished 2-for-3 with two runs, two walks and three stolen bases.
“I was a little nervous coming out, but once that first pitch happened, it was all fun and felt relaxed,” Foote said. “With this group of guys it actually felt like we were a team all year, which is crazy because it’s our first time ever playing together as one.”
In the top of the fifth, Sierra Pacific’s Sammy Springer came in to pitch. He allowed an infield single and walk to start his outing, but then got a ground ball for an out. The play involved three local players with Springer’s pitch, Hanford’s Edgar Sanchez’s scoop at third base and the throw to Holaday at first.
Springer gave up a run in the fifth and two in the sixth, but only one was earned. He allowed two hits and walked one batter in two innings of work. He grounded to first in his only at-bat in the eighth.
“I liked having no pressure just going out there and being able to feel free and trying to pitch to have fun instead of pitch for competition even though it is competition,” Springer said.
Sanchez had his only hit in the fourth, a single to left field. He also made some great grabs at third for a couple of outs. On the mound, he put together two scoreless innings with two strikeouts and allowed one hit.
“It was pretty fun hanging around with everyone we used to play with, got the W, representing where we came from, I mean it’s pretty good,” Sanchez said.
Perez was 0-for-1 in his only at-bat, but did have a walk and scored a run in the fourth. He also called a great game during the time he was behind the plate as catcher.
The East scored its first run of the game in the fifth inning on a ground out to make it 3-1. It was as close as they would come. They trailed by five entering the sixth and plated another two runs, with the help of two errors by the West, to cut the lead to three. But they were shut down the rest of the way and only had two base runners over the last three innings.
The West reclaimed their spot on top after losing last year’s All-Star game 4-2. The West has now won five of the last six All-Star games.
“It’s just a good way to end it,” Springer said about closing his high school career with a win. “It’s the end of a chapter and hopefully starting a new one.”