It was a night to remember at George Taylor Field last night, as the Niagara Metros (@NiagaraMetros) took a night off from their usual home game to host the first ever High School All-Star Showcase. Students from across the Niagara Region came to the Metros home field and did not disappoint. While the battle between Zone 3 and Zone 4 saw the former come away with a 14-7 victory, it was a truly a winning night for everyone involved in this inaugural event!
The offensively charged game saw plenty of scoring from both sides, but it was Zone 3 that got the festivities start in the first inning. Lead-off hitter Brandon Underhill (Saint Michael – @SaintMichaelCHS) epitomized the role right from the first pitch, drawing a walk, stealing a base, and coming home on a pass ball. He would follow up his impactful first at bat with an RBI triple in the second inning, helping his Zone 3 team jump out to a 3-0 lead early on.
After settling in early on, meanwhile, the second inning was also the charm for Zone 4, as they were able to get on the scoreboard with some small ball. A Scott Falk (Eden) walk, a Caleb Johnston (Eden – @Eden_High) single, and a Josh Campbell (Grimsby) RBI single solved the Zone 3 pitching and cut the deficit to 3-1. Unfortunately for Zone 4, their opponents were quick to respond in the third frame. Starting with a triple from Owen Diodati (AN Myer – @myernation), the table was set for a big inning. And thanks to a trio of run-scoring knocks from Spencer Matson (Westlane – @spartannation_), Seth Long (Saint Paul – @SPHIGH), and Tyler Duff (Stamford – @StamfordNation), Zone 3 doubled their output in a hurry!
Another triple from Diodati in the fourth inning, this time scoring AN Myer teammate Shawn Adamo, pushed the score to 7-1, which remained the same until the sixth inning. Zone 4 was then able to cut into the 6-run deficit in a big way. With a pair of runners on base, it was Matt Porkolab (Blessed Trinity – @BlessedTrinity4) tallied a solid double to bring both runners home, and was then brought home himself thanks to an RBI single from Spencer Lloyd (Denis Morris – @dmchsofficial).
Heading into the latter part of the game, the two teams were still closely matched, but the eighth inning proved to be the difference-maker in an otherwise tightly contested match-up. Zone 3 was able to load the bases and keep the line-up moving with a keen eye at the plate, and then received a bases-clearing double from Nick Cook (Lakeshore Catholic) to blow the game open. When all was said and done, Zone 3 sent 12 batters to the plate in the frame and had ballooned their cushion to an impressive 14-4.
Despite the 10-run obstacle, Zone 4 kept at it and were by no means ready to pack it in. In fact, the bottom half of the eighth saw the trailing Zone 4 squad tally three runs, with the big knock coming from Kevin Thomson (Denis Morris), who picked up a powerful triple to straight away centre field. While the fight was admirable, Zone 3 proved to be too much on this night, and was able to come away with the win. And thanks to his pair of triples and four RBIs, it was AN Myer’s Owen Diodati (Grade 9) who came away with MVP honours.
Ultimately, the inaugural High School All-Star Showcase was about much more than just the score. Last night brought together nearly 40 athletes from 17 high schools across Niagara, showcasing some of the most promising young baseball players that the Region has to offer. And with fans flooding to cheer on these players, along with a handful of college/university level coaches, the performances did not disappoint. Thanks to a bevy of heroic hitting, premier pitching, and dynamic defense, everyone in attendance left in high spirits, knowing that baseball will continue to be well-represented in Niagara for years to come!
The Metros would like to thank everyone who came out to support the event and hope to see all of you back at George Taylor Field for the team’s regularly scheduled COBA Baseball (@COBABaseball) home game against the Oakville A’s (@OakvilleAs).