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Baseball: Britton and Pipik live out childhood dream in Brooks Robinson All-Star game

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Almost every kid who's ever played little league baseball has daydreamed of one day playing on the same field that their big league heroes play on.

For 99.9 percent of them, the closest they'll ever get to living out that dream is to hop the fence during a Major League Baseball game to sprint across the outfield, risking jailtime, a heavy fine, humiliation and possibly, a tasing.

But not Atholton's Kory Britton and Reservoir's T.J. Pipik.

On Monday afternoon at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Britton and Pipik — who have played baseball with and against each other since they were little leaguers themselves — played out that fantasy after being selected to play in the annual Brooks Robinson High School All-Star Game of Maryland, presented by Geier Financial Group.

"This is my first time playing here," said Pipik, who was recently named The Baltimore Sun All-Metro baseball Player of the Year. "It's beautiful. It's a lot of fun. This jersey is going to be framed. It's a great experience."

Pipik, who pitched two scoreless innings in relief, and Britton, who played middle infield, represented the North team, which won the game, 5-0.

The North team included four pitchers and 11 position players, as did the South team, putting Britton and Pipik amongst elite company.

Britton was the Howard County Player of the Year last year as a junior. Pipik was awarded that honor this year, and both players were named to The Washington Post All-Met team this spring.

"This was sweet. We came home from beach week just to get our jerseys and everything. We came here and got shown underneath the dugouts, that was cool," Britton said.

The game was originally scheduled to be played after the Orioles-Tampa Bay Rays game on Sunday, June 12, but was postponed until Monday after a torrential downpour at the conclusion of the Major League game.

Pipik, who batted leadoff and played shortstop as well as pitching for the Gators, led his Reservoir team to a 21-0 record this spring — including a win over Atholton that essentially sealed the school's first county title, and a win in the District V title game — before they were derailed in the 3A East regional semifinal by Britton's Raiders.

Pipik came on to pitch in the top of the fourth inning with his team ahead, 1-0. He yielded back-to-back singles and then induced a grounder to third to put runners on first and third with one-out after a throwing error by the third baseman. Pipik got the next batter to hit a grounder to the shortstop, Britton, who initiated the inning-ending double play.

"The guy hit the ball hard enough to me at shortstop to turn it to the second baseman, Ryne Willard (Smithsburg), and he turned it pretty good," said Britton, who has played at Camden Yards before during a tryout for the Orioleanders high school showcase team. "That was probably the biggest threat they had the whole game. That was really a tribute to (our pitchers)."

Pipik was happy to be out of the inning without any damage, and was not surprised that his Howard County counterpart made the play.

"He'd better (make that play)! I've known him my whole life," Pipik said. "I left the ball up a little bit, and you get hit, but as long as you can get out of the inning with no runs, I'm happy with that."

Pipik, who was 9-0 with a .38 ERA, 71 strikeouts and five walks this season, was known for his coolness under pressure as high school player. But even he admitted to a few nerves when stepping onto the same field that Cal Ripken played on.

"Before you get on the mound you're a little nervous, but once you walk out onto the field the nerves go away, everything goes away," he said. "You've just got to do what you've got to do."

Pipik also batted .472 this season with 18 extra base hits (eight home runs), 29 runs, 35 RBIs and ten stolen bases.

The pitchers in the Brooks Robinson game do not bat, but Britton came to the plate three times batting in the sixth spot. In his first at-bat, facing J.M. Bennett's Zachary Sterling — the pitcher who knocked Atholton out of the playoffs in the 3A East regional championship — he hit the ball sharply but straight to the opposing shortstop. In the fourth inning, he was at the plate when Calvert Hall's Matt Bosse scored on a wild pitch. He grounded out in each of his last two at bats, but never failed to put the ball in play.

"I had seen (Sterling) before, but it still wasn't easy. They're all very good pitchers. Their arms are pretty live because they're only throwing two or three innings," said Britton, who batted .458 with 13 extra base hits (six home runs), 25 runs, 21 RBIs and seven stolen bases.

Sterling, a 6-foot-9 lefthander who is headed to the University of Richmond on a baseball scholarship, earned the Most Valuable Pitcher award for the South team.

"I wanted a hit really bad, especially in this type of game. You want to show your best … but it was a great opportunity," said Britton, who tripled off Sterling in the playoff loss. "It was really fun hanging out with all these players."

Britton will play for the University of Maryland, College Park, next season while Pipik is headed to CCBC-Catonsville.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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