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Local All-Stars win 3rd annual cross-county baseball game
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Turlocks Tyler Murphy completes the shutout over Merced Countys All-Stars on Sunday. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

Stanislaus County continued its streak of dominance over Merced County with an 8-0 shutout in the Merced-Stanislaus County All-Stars game on Sunday.

Merced’s All-Stars were no match for the arms of Stanislaus’ pitchers — Pitman High’s Damian Sousa-Johnson, Enochs High’s Kyle Dunnegan, Downey High’s Robert Schauer, and Turlock High’s Tyler Murphy — who held Merced to only six hits and no runs. Sousa-Johnson manned the hill for the first two innings, finishing with four allowed hits and four strike outs, and Murphy once again acted as his team’s closer, allowing no hits and recording one strikeout in the 8th and 9th innings.

“We knew our pitchers were good and we knew if they threw strikes we would probably dominate, and we did,” Stanislaus’ coach Mick Tate said. “When you shut an All-Star team out you’re doing things right.”

 While Merced struggled with its opposing pitchers, Stanislaus had no trouble in finding its offensive rhythm and jumping onto the board early. Downey High’s Devon Gradford started the scoring in the bottom of the first inning with a booming double into right field, bringing Modesto Christian High’s Kaden Cline across home plate for the 1-0 lead. Stanislaus earned runs in the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth innings as Pitman’s Tyler Arnsberg, A.J. Derr and Steven Kha, along with Cline, produced hits on the regular. After six innings Stanislaus led 5-0.

“It’s very easy to coach great baseball players,” Tate said. “I’ve always been a great coach when I coach great players.”

Stanislaus’ final three runs came in the eighth inning as Derr hit a two-run single to right field and Gradford notched his fourth RBI of the game. Derr finished with two RBIs and a scored run, Kha finished with one RBI, and Arnsberg, Murphy and Turlock’s Luiz Mendez finished with a run a piece.

Murphy and Mendez will return next season as seniors for the Bulldogs. As for Pitman’s All-Star crew, Sunday was the last high school baseball game they will play as they will be scattered across California at various colleges next year. Sunday was also the final baseball game for Tate, who was able to cap his coaching career with a cross-county victory.

 “I’m going to be watching a lot of baseball, playing a little golf, and getting a lot of exercise,” Tate said with a chuckle.