West wins American Classic 11-3


la-reynolds-10th miami-mvp award-all american-game storyAlthough offense is the driving force behind the 10th Annual International POWER SHOWCASE, in Saturday’s American Classic game at Miami Marlins Park it was the pitching that stole the show. The West team got strong pitching performances throughout to hold the East team to just three hits and claim the victory.

Texas right-hander John Henry Gonzalez earned the win with three shutout innings to start the contest. The 5’11”, 215-pounder surrendered a leadoff walk to Florida’s Derek Smolenski to start his outing, before shutting down the next six batters in a row. Gonzalez faced just one hitter over the minimum, as his defense erased a leadoff walk to Florida’s Paul Benitez in the bottom of the third with a 6-4-3 double play. Gonzalez finished with four strikeouts before giving way to Mississippi southpaw Will McCoy.

McCoy came in with a two-run lead after Minnesota’s Jeff Athey and Missouri’s Cole Evans both reached base and scored on an error in the top of the fourth. The 6’7”, 250-pounder proved to be equally tough by mowing through the first five batters he faced and posting two shutout frames. The East got to McCoy to get on the scoreboard in the sixth when Florida’s Alan Alonso singled up the middle and came in thanks to an RBI double from Georgia’s Feature champion Bryce O’Brien on a shot that split the right-center field gap.

McCoy allowed two hits and two walks and picked up two strikeouts.

The East held back and got patient later in the game as it began to run out of outs, as Mississippi 6’4”, 220-pounder Blake Morris came on in the bottom of the seventh for the final three frames. Morris ran into a bit of trouble as Florida’s Alec Bowman walked and Bobby Aseere and Paul Benitez were both hit by pitches to load the bases. Florida’s Arnaldo Brito lofted a high shot to center field for a sac-fly RBI that plated Bowman, before Morris got a strikeout to end the threat. Derek Smolenski reached base and came home on an error to close out the scoring in the bottom of the ninth.

Morris surrendered one earned run on a hit, three walks and he picked up two strikeouts.

The East also held their opponents off the scoreboard early on, as right-handed starter CJ Bottiglieri tossed three scoreless frames. The 6’1”, 200-pound hurler went the first four innings and gave up a hit and two walks while striking out nine. Bottiglieri reached velocities in the upper eighties to strike out eight in a row, striking out the side in the second and third.

Florida 6’1”, 200-pound right-hander Hunter Holland came on to pitch the fifth and the West extended its lead with three unearned runs. Washington’s Jonathan Imperial walked, Texas’ Cale Emshoff singled and advanced into scoring position due to a throwing error. McCoy drove in Imperial on a fielder’s choice, and gave way to courtesy-runner Beau Capanna as he batted around when the lineup rotated in reverse order. Imperial came back up next and he sliced an RBI single past second. The Nevada native Capanna also scored on a passed ball.

Alan Alonso took the mound in the top of the sixth, and the 6’1” 205-pounder tossed two scoreless innings. The right-hander allowed a hit, a walk and hit a batter while striking out three.

The West put things away with six runs in the final two innings. Blake Morris led off the eighth with a single and advanced to second on a passed ball. Louisiana’s Ryan Reynolds perfectly executed a hit-and-run to allow Morris to fly around third and score on an RBI single. Texas’ Cross Austin walked and both runners stole a base and then scored on consecutive wild pitches. Mississippi’s Weston Acey walked to keep things going and then was replaced by Cole Evans so he could bat again, and this time he delivered a two-RBI single.

A pair of runs scored by the West in the top of the ninth closed out their scoring. Austin walked to start off and Ryan Reynolds crushed a shot that split the right-center gap and rolled to the wall as he raced to third for a standup RBI triple. Blake Morris then followed with an RBI single to left field.

Reynolds took home MVP honors after going 2-for-3 with a triple, two runs and two RBIs.


By Rick Duteau


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