Hilmar High School baseball coach Justin Steelman gathered a group of all-stars on the mound at Merced College after last week’s Merced County All-Star Game and quickly turned their attention to tonight’s matchup with Stanislaus County.
“In the four years we’ve played Stanislaus County, we haven’t beat them yet,” Steelman said. “I’m tired of losing.”
Merced will try to break into the win column in the fifth annual Merced County-Stanislaus County All-Star Baseball Game at Merced College at 7 p.m.
“We’ve got a good chance this year,” said Dos Palos’ Efrain Del Rio, who was named the MVP for the South team last week after hitting a home run and driving in three runs. “Looking at all the guys on the roster for Merced, they all have a lot of talent.”
The Merced County game last week saw two teams combine for 20 runs, including three homers. Merced hopes to bring some of that offense into tonight’s matchup.
Stanislaus County has outscored Merced 35-11 in the four games, including a 7-4 win last year, and doesn’t want the streak to end.
“Every year (Merced) has talented kids, but we want to win every game,” said Ceres’ Alan Marquez, who will play for Stanislaus County. “This is my last high school game. I want to try to end it with a win.”
Joining Del Rio for Merced will be Hilmar catcher Breck Smith, who also homered in the Merced County game. Atwater ace Ryan Sanchez and Southern League MVP Carlos Del Real of Le Grand also will play. Del Real has been selected to play in this game all four years.
Highlighting Stanislaus’ roster will be Modesto Christian’s Robert Garcia and Mason Washington. Garcia helped pitch the East to a 5-0 win in last week’s Modesto Sunrise Rotary Baseball Classic at John Thurman Field. Garcia was named Player of the Game after striking out five and allowing one hit in two innings. Washington had two hits and a stolen base.
Joining the Crusaders on the Stanislaus County team are Modesto Metro Conference MVP Tyler Janitz of Gregori and Pitman’s Coleton Horner, who ended the season with a 26-game hitting streak.
“I’m looking forward to the game,” Marquez said. “I only got to play two innings in last week’s game. I might get to play five this time. Just being around all the talent from the other schools, it’ll be a fun game. Hopefully, there will be a big crowd.”