Commentary

Rangers, Brewers Gray earn first wins

Updated: August 7, 2009, 11:59 AM ET
By Ronnie Flores | ESPNRISE.com

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- On Day 2 of the 2009 Area Code games, there was yet another tie, but the Milwaukee Brewers Gray team finally came through with the event's first victory in Game 4. Defensive plays in the outfield highlighted Thursday's action, as did the bats of the Washington Nationals' Drew Vettleson.

Milwaukee Brewers Blue 8, Oakland Athletics 8
The Brewers Blue squad, primarily made up of players from Southern California, is traditionally strong each year at Area Code. In their first game they wasted no time jumping on the Athletics, but in the end they went home like everyone did on Day 1.

As Rally
Scott Kurtz/ESPNRISEThe A's rallied in the sixth inning to take home the tie.

The Brew Crew put four on the board in the bottom of the first inning off the A's Nathan Foriest (Harpeth/Kingston Springs, Tenn.), a right-hander. Shortstop Patrick Valaika (Hart/Newhall, Calif.) got on board courtesy of an error at third base, and he took third on a double by Travis Harrison (Tustin, Calif.). With one out, Tyler Kuresa (Oakmont/Roseville, Calif.) hit a two-run single up the middle and took second on the throw home.

Stefan Sabol (Aliso Niguel/Aliso Viejo, Calif.) hit a sharp double down the line to score Kuresa. Christian Yelich (Westlake, Calif.) drove in the fourth run of the inning with a stand-up triple.

Although Foriest's nerves were a little shaky to open the game, he settled down in the second and third innings and didn't allow any more damage. Offensively, the Athletics made their move in the bottom of the second inning. They loaded the bases with two outs, and lefty Griffin Murphy (Redlands East Valley/Redlands, Calif.) of the Brewers Blue walked in Paul Kronenfeld (Woodbury Forrest/Greensboro, N.C.) on four pitches. The A's got two more runs when catcher Drew Doty (Gaither/Tampa, Fla.) hit a Texas Leaguer over the middle to drive in D'Monte Grissom (Whitewater/Fayetteville, Ga.) and Bobby Geren (San Ramon Valley/Danville, Calif.)

In the top of the fourth inning, Milwaukee added three more runs. The speedster Sabol scored from first on a double by Yelich. Yelich scored on a double hit down the third-base line by outfielder Michael Lorenzen (Fullerton, Calif.). Lorenzen scored on a fielder's choice and scored again in the top of the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly as the Brewers Blue took an 8-3 lead after five and a half innings.

The Oakland A's weren't finished, however, as they got something going in the bottom of the sixth. With nobody out, a perfectly executed hit-and-run by Kronenfeld put outfielder Ty Linton (Charlotte Christian/Matthews, N.C.) on third with no one out. Brewers Blue shortstop Vincent Velasquez (Garey/Pomona, Calif.) saved a run by tracking down a ball in short left field, but Geren hit a two-run single to drive in Kronenfeld and Linton. Geren then tried to score on a passed ball but was thrown out at the plate.

Oakland completed its comeback in the bottom of the seventh, as it scored three runs to make it all tied up at Area Code after 25 innings of play.

Milwaukee Brewers Gray 7, New York Yankees 2
Sandwiched between the Brewers Gray's offense were two spectacular defensive plays from leftfielder Kenny Travis (Edison/Fresno, Calif.), as the Brewers topped the New York Yankees 7-2. It was a solid all-around effort for the first win of any team at the 2009 Area Code Baseball Games.

Brewers Gray
Scott Kurtz/ESPNRISEThe Brewers Gray team rolled past the Yankees for Area Code's first win.

"We talked in the dugout about getting the win," Travis said. "The coaches did tell me in the dugout 'Nice catch.'"

The only scoring opportunity for either team in the first inning came when the Yankees threatened. Cito Culver (Irondequoit/Rochester, N.Y.) was caught stealing on an outstanding throw by Jake Rodriguez (Elk Grove, Calif.) during the same play in which Sean Coyle (Germantown Academy/Chalfont, Pa.) struck out.

The Brewers Gray got onto the board in the second inning when Rodriguez reached on an infield single off the third baseman's glove. Rodriguez then scored on an error by the third baseman. The Brewers pushed another run across when the Yankees' Timothy Kiene (Avon Old Farms/South Windsor, Conn.) dropped the ball at first after an inadequate throw by the third baseman.

Southpaw Kevin Ziomek (Amherst Regional, Mass.) made quick work of the Brewers' hitters in the third with a 1-2-3 inning.

Culver drove a base hit up the middle on the first pitch he saw to start off the bottom of the third for the Yankees. An error by the second baseman gave the Yankees runners at first and second, but shortstop Mike Antonio (George Washington/New York) flied out to left. A base hit to left field by Greg Brodzinski (Bishop Eustace/Turnersville, N.J.) drove in Culver from second. The runners then advanced to third and second on a fielding error by the left fielder, but the Gray's Brando Tessar (Chaminade/West Hills, Calif.) struck out the next hitter and got a lineout to right field to end the threat. After three innings, the Brewers Gray led 2-1.

In the fourth, Rodriguez scored his second run on an RBI single by Alex Balog (Mitty/San Jose, Calif.), pushing the Brewers' lead to 3-1. The Brewers added four more runs, one on a wild pitch by the Yankees' Colin O'Keefe (Waterford, Conn.) and two more on a line drive to center by outfielder Joc Pederson (Palo Alto, Calif.) as the Brewers took a 6-1 lead.

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Pederson had one of the best batting practice sessions of the evaluation day, and his hot bat continued in the Brewers Gray's first game.

More porous defense by the Yankees and a wild pitch led to the Brewers scoring a seventh run.

The Yankees finally got something going in the eighth, when Culver scored yet again on a Coyle single, making it 7-2. When Culver got his base hit, it was the first hit for the Bronx Bombers since the third inning. The Brewers' pitchers made a positive impression during the middle innings, as the Yankees had a difficult time figuring them out.

The Yankees tried to get something going in the ninth, but the Brewers' Chase Johnson (Fallbrook, Calif.) was able to slam the door closed behind Travis' second stellar play. On his first play early in the game, he sprinted from left field to catch a ball hit down the third-base line, making the grab while leaning over the bullpen barrier fence.

"I was trying to feel for the wall," Travis said. "I knew I had it when he hit the ball."

His second play in left field was even more spectacular, as he kept the leadoff hitter in the ninth off the base path by making a spectacular diving catch.

"I knew I would get there if I could dive," Travis added. "That's what I am supposed to do out there. But yes, it was the best catch I have ever made. It made up for my batting today."

Texas Rangers 9, Washington Nationals 7
The first two days at Area Code have seen many spectacular defensive plays in the outfield. The infield, however, is a different story.

Rangers Batting
Scott Kurtz/ESPNRISEThe bats were hot during Day 2's Rangers-Nationals contest.

"The fast dirt of Blair has caused some problems for the kids out there," said an American League area scout. "Blair has a way of doing that: separating the good from the bad. It reveals the truth."

The Nationals did enough with their bats to stay in the game, but simply made too many poor defensive plays to win.

Nationals starting pitcher Austin Voth (Kentwood/Kent, Wash.), a righty, did a spectacular job, allowing only one hit through the first three innings. Voth went out for the fourth inning, but the Rangers' bats eventually caught up to him. He was pulled after 3 1/3, highlighting the Nationals' shortage of available arms because of injuries on their roster.

The Rangers scored five runs in the fourth inning, thanks in part to defensive errors in the infield. Christian Summers (Central/San Angelo, Texas) scored after hitting a single, and outfielder Anthony Bryant (Connally/Pflugerville, Texas), drove in two runs with a two-out single.

Texas struck again in the top of the fifth inning, as Matt Lipka (McKinney/Frisco, Texas) scored on an error by the Nationals' third baseman, who made an off-target throw to the first baseman. Brian Ragira (James Martin/Arlington, Texas) then scored on a single by Jared Lakind (Cypress Woods, Texas) after the catcher dropped a nice throw by Nationals right fielder Drew Vettleson (Central Kitsap/Bremerton, Wash.). Vettleson got scouts' attention by making three frozen-rope throws, one to home plate and two to third base, even though he didn't record a putout on any of them.

Despite the defensive shortcomings, Joshua Sale (Bishop Blanchet/Seattle) and Vettleson did nearly everything possible offensively to keep the Nationals in the game. Vettleson racked up four hits while Sale went 2-for-3 with two walks and two RBIs.

In the bottom of the fifth with his team trailing 7-1 with two outs, the bases loaded and a 3-2 count, Sale drew a walk to score Peter Summerville (Seattle Academy/Seattle). Catcher Alex Sloan (Sumner/Puyallup, Wash.) then came through with a bases-loaded single to make it a 7-4 game.

The Nationals continued to close the gap as Washington scored on yet another miscue in the bottom of the sixth, but Texas got an insurance run on a wild pitch in the top of the seventh. Vettleson scored after his third hit in the bottom of the seventh and Texas scored its ninth run on a passed ball in the top of the eighth.

Trailing 9-6 going into the bottom of the ninth inning, Vettleson came up with his fourth sharply hit ball, a single. He took two bases on a passed ball and eventually scored on Sale's single, but the Nationals could muster no more runs.

Ronnie Flores is a senior editor of ESPN RISE. If you're an ESPN Insider, check out Keith Law's Day 2 analysis here. For more information on Sale's exploits, check out the ESPN RISE baseball blog. For Area Code updates, follow us on Twitter. For more information on the Area Code Games, click here.