Brewers’ team from SoCal tops Athletics’ team from NorCal 4-3 in perhaps the marquee matchup of this year’s MLB showcase in Long Beach.
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Despite the fact the Milwaukee Brewers’ Area Code team was upset by the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday, the matchup in the Thursday 5:30 p.m. nightcap versus the Oakland Athletics still had the feeling of a genuine Southern California versus Northern California baseball grudge match.
The two teams, playing in what most scouts felt was the marquee game of the 2013 New Balance Area Code Games, fought it out right up until the final out. In the end, the superior pitching and timely hitting of the Brewers got the job done in a 4-3 victory for the “local” SoCal boys.
The local boy with the big stick early was Chris Betts from Long Beach Wilson, a school directly across the street from the Blair Field location of the Area Code Games.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound incoming junior catcher who doubles as a first baseman, connected for a two-base hit in the first inning that knocked in Kevin Padlow (Murrieta Valley, Murrieta) for the game’s first run, and then scored the second run on an Oakland error.
“It’s awesome to get this win, especially when we know so many of the guys on the other team,” Betts said. “The team that scores first usually wins, so we wanted to get that out of the way; we wanted to get to them early.”
Despite putting a two-spot on the board in the first inning, the game was far from over.
Oakland tied it in the second inning on a single by De La Salle of Concord first baseman Chris Williams, who’s also the starting quarterback for the fabled football team.
The Athletics took a 3-2 lead in the third inning on an RBI single by Casey Soltis (Granada, Livermore), but the Brew Crew got two in the bottom of the inning with the final and winning run coming on a sacrifice fly by Brandon Gonzalez of Villa Park. He plated Nick Valaika from Hart of Newhall, who earlier in the inning drove in Luke Dykstra (Westlake, Westlake Village) to tie the game at 3-3.
From there, the Brewers’ bullpen took over and retired nine of the final 10 batters.
One of the star relievers was another local boy from nearby Los Alamitos — 6-foot-7, 220-pound Tylor Megill. He recovered from a rough outing in a win over the Royals to mow down the three batters he faced in the sixth inning.
“Against the Royals, I didn’t have my best outing,” Megill said. “But I had to get up and get out there again and push through it. When you play, you can’t be down on yourself. My mindset is to stay in the present, go out there, compete and get them out 1-2-3.”
Jonathan Teaney of Quartz Hill came on in the seventh inning and shut the door on the Athletics. After the leadoff batter reached on an error, the 6-foot-1 right-hander struck out the next batter on two straight 91 mile-per-hour fastballs. Teaney got the final batter with 90 and 91 mile-per-hour fastballs, and a curve that looked like it dropped off a table but still registered 78 on the radar gun.
“Our bullpen is phenomenal,” Megill remarked. “Every player is top of the line. We are super serious and get in our zone. It shows when we go out there.”
“All of them got in there, pounded the zone and got ahead of batters. That was big,” added Betts.
First Team All State Underclass and Stanford–committed Quinn Brodey (Loyola, Los Angeles) started for the Brewers and went two innings and gave up two runs.
The Brewers and Athletics are now both 2-1 with the Chicago White Sox the only unbeaten team at 3-0 after their 6-2 win on Thursday over the Washington Nationals.
Earlier in the Week
On Tuesday, before suffering a 5-3 loss on Wednesday to the White Sox, the Brewers were 10-2 winners over the Kansas City Royals.
Brady Aiken, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound lefthander from Cathedral Catholic (San Diego), established himself as one of the Area Code Games’ top pitchers after starting for Milwaukee and striking out seven in three innings pitched.
The Athletics defeated the Kansas City Royals on Monday, 4-3, and then followed that up with a 3-1 win on Tuesday over the Cincinnati Reds.
In the win over the Reds, Matt McLaughlin (Leland, San Jose) broke a 1-1 tie in the third inning with an RBI single and the Athletics added another run in the inning that completed the scoring.
Brewers’ shortstop Nick Valaika from Hart of Newhall, the third Valaika brother to play in the Area Code Games, continued his outstanding defense in the loss to the White Sox and also found his hitting stroke with a double that knocked in two runs.
Related: Area Code Mid-event All-Star team includes four Californians
Note: Ronnie Flores & Mark Tennis contributed to this story.
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend