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Century grad Austin excels in Camden Yards

BALTIMORE - Michael Austin did not find out he was starting in the 31st annual Brooks Robinson High School All-Star Game on Sunday until five minutes before the game.

Shortly after, Orioles center fielder Adam Jones visited Austin and his teammates in the dugout and Austin jogged out onto the field at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and stood in Jones' spot in center.

"I got to run out to his spot so it was really cool," Austin said. "He said [to me], 'Play hard. Have fun,' and do better than him."

Austin, who graduated from Century High School on Friday, played an instrumental role in the North team's offense, although his team lost 4-3.

In the top of the fifth, Austin laced a line drive into left field, driving in the team's second run of the game. Austin then advanced to third on a throwing error.

"He had thrown me a curveball already," Austin said. "I knew he was going to throw me another one eventually. ... I just tried to put a good swing on it and it went through the hole."

Austin scored from third on a wild pitch, bringing his team within a run. Austin grounded out to third base in his first, and only other, at-bat of the game in the third. During the game, Austin played all three outfield positions.

The victorious South team was led by MVPs Eric Ramsey (Georgetown Prep) and Josh Hader (Old Mill), who was drafted by the Orioles in the 19th round of the MLB draft.

The MVPs of the North team were Brandon Casas (Gilman) and Lamonte Wade (Saint Paul's).

"It was awesome, everybody's out here having fun," Austin said. "Words don't describe what was going through my head right now. ... This is where real baseball players play so it was great."

Bryan Harman, one of the North's coaches and former Westminster baseball coach, was familiar with Austin prior to the all-star game tryouts and practices. Harman was invited to coach in the game after leading the Owls to an undefeated state championship season in 2011.

"One, he's a quality kid," Harman said. "Two, he's got exceptional baseball abilities. He's worked at his game, and that's what it takes to, you know, be playing at the next level."

Austin will be playing for Bethune-Cookman University next season, and leaves for Florida this Sunday.

"To end your high school baseball career at Camden Yards is just unbelievable," Austin said. "Here you see the best pitchers in Maryland, so anytime you can see the best it helps."

Harman had not coached a game since Westminster's state championship victory, and said that coaching in the all-star game was an enjoyable experience.

"It's an exciting time to come down here for this," he said. "This is different knowing that this will be the last time that I'll put a uniform [on] and do any type of coaching, but it's been fun."

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