As the West and East teams met on John Thurman Field Saturday for the 23rd annual Modesto Sunrise Rotary Baseball Classic, each player had the same goal in mind — winning.
With All Star athletes from around the region occupying the same field it was no secret that the game would be competitive. Still, few could have foreseen that both teams would be denied the satisfaction of victory, but that’s exactly what happened. After nine innings of close play, the All Star matchup ended in a tie, 7-7, leaving players and fans alike longing for a conclusive ending.
“As far as I know, this is the first time the game’s ended in a tie,” West coach Mick Tate said. “Obviously, we would have liked to have won but it was still an exciting game full of great catches and clutch plays. It was a lot of fun.”
The West took the lead early as Modesto Christian High’s Kaden Cline hit a RBI single in the second inning. Cline returned to the plate in the fourth inning, jumpstarting a surge of runs with a two-run triple. Turlock Christian High’s John Westberg also got in on the scoring with a RBI single to finish off the five-run inning and give the West a 6-1 lead.
The East answered back quickly, however, scoring six runs in the sixth inning to take a one point lead. Trailing, the West turned to Turlock High junior Tyler Murphy to finish the final three innings from the mound. His performance would earn him the game’s Most Valuable Player award.
“From what I saw this year, as the best pitcher we faced all season, I knew that he would deliver,” Tate said of Murphy. “He was phenomenal.”
“Out of all the guys out there, I didn’t expect to be chosen, especially since I’m a junior,” Murphy said.
Murphy faced 10 batters, including heavy hitters Connor Torres of Beyer High and Devon Gradford of Downey High, threw four strikes and didn’t allow a run. He finished as the only All Star pitcher to not allow a run in the game.
“My arm felt really good in the beginning and by the end I thought I could go longer,” he said.
Murphy nearly scored a go ahead, game winning RBI in the bottom of the ninth but was thwarted by Ceres High’s Nick Welsh who threw out Pitman High’s Steven Kha at home plate from the outfield.
“Most of us were satisfied with how the game ended,” Murphy said. “We really wanted to win but we were big underdogs so it felt good to know they couldn’t beat us.”
Murphy wasn’t the only player from the Turlock area to win an award as Pitman High’s A.J. Derr earned the All Academic Award.