The Modesto Sunrise Rotary Club wheels into its 20th Stanislaus County High School All-Star Baseball Game with a new format gaining momentum and one caveat.
The all-star game actually is plural -- two games in one night.
Fifty-seven of the area's best players from 22 schools convene Saturday at John Thurman Field. The small schools game begins at 3:05 p.m., followed by the large schools at 7:05 p.m.
Saturday will mark the third year the format was expanded to include two games. Juniors fill out the rosters.
Never miss a local story.
"It just means you're getting more players on the field," said Johansen High's Jim Davis, the coach of the West large-schools team. "At first, we were skeptical, but it's working out fine."
Davis, the Vikings' head coach since 2002, will lead his third all-star team onto the field. He coached two all-star teams to victories in this game during his tenure at Riverbank High (1994-99).
"The most important thing is for the kids to have fun and that they all play in front of their family and friends," Davis said. "They all want to win, but I'll be more worried about making sure everyone gets playing time."
His West team will feature five players from Grace Davis' Modesto Metro Conference championship team -- pitcher and league MVP Ryan Stice, pitcher-first baseman Mike Creamer, catcher Martin Gonzales, shortstop Jimmy Meyers and outfielder Jake Sisco.
The East, coached by Ceres' Greg Magni, trots out pitcher Justin Jones -- bound for Cal -- and second baseman Vince Helms from the Oakdale team that reached the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV finals.
In the small-schools game, East coach Bob Etcheverry of Hughson will rely on the four standouts who carried Central Catholic to its 10th straight section title -- seniors Patrick Trinkler and Alec DiLallo and juniors C.J. Carson and Jeremiah Graff.
Patterson's Josh Hamm will coach the West for the second straight year, and he'll be surrounded by four of his Tigers who placed second behind Central Catholic in the Western Athletic Conference race -- seniors Brett Wheeland and David Gonsalves and juniors Jake Saavedra and Tyler Bettencourt.
Proceeds, including ticket sales, will be donated to the participating schools' baseball programs. Tickets are available at the respective schools or at the gate.