The Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference All-Star game made its return. The league’s top senior baseball players descended on Yankee Field at Ripken Stadium on Wednesday evening for the sixth annual UCBAC All-Star game, the first played since 2019.
It was a breath of fresh air at the end of a long season with nearly every participating coach and player concluding their respective playoff runs.
“It was a totally different environment,” said Grant Morlock, Fallston’s coach who led Team North. “It’s the seniors, they’re in a great time in their life right now. They’re in their last week of school; some of them are done with school. They’re graduating next week. It’s cool to see them relax, have fun in the dugout and not have those high-stress situations that we just all went through in the playoffs.”
That is, except for Ryan Niedzialkowski and Cole Williams from C. Milton Wright. Both were scratched from competing in the All-Star game as they have their sights set on the ultimate goal. The Mustangs play River Hill on Saturday for the Class 3A state championship. The two received plenty of warm wishes while manning the sideline.
Williams called it the most relaxed game of baseball he could remember watching. Music rang through the stadium in warmups and a football found its way near one dugout eliciting a game of catch.
The jovial nature bled right into the game, with South eventually winning, 13-9.
Team South was made up of players representing the first-, third-, fifth- and seventh-place finishers from the Susquehanna Division and the second-, fourth-, sixth- and eighth-place finishers of the Chesapeake. Team South took the opposite number finishers from each division.
Team North’s bats struck first. Fallston’s Finley Jourdan belted an RBI double in the second inning that scored Joe Kanner from Harford Tech.
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But it was an All-Star game where teams more willingly lean on the fun parts of the sport. Thus, Team South pitcher Zach Rey from Bel Air executed a hidden ball trick that left Jourdan shaking his head trotting back to the dugout.
When North East’s Seamus Malinowski, representing Team North, ripped a foul ball toward the feet of South’s dugout, “Yeah, send a message!” could be heard from his teammates in the North dugout.
North jumped out on top first. South crawled back in short order and held onto the win.
Spectators grappled with who to root for. Some even joked the All-Star game would mean a break from harping on umpires. Adding to the confusion of any vested interest, North Harford’s Colin Brosh, who played with Team South, pitched the seventh inning for Team North with Morlock’s side needing another closer.
Both teams shuffled players through positions with a different pitcher each inning. They rotated the other eight to positions they aren’t used to, which gave way to plenty of passed balls, dropped balls and wayward throws.
“They were joking on each other because we had kids playing out of position and kids giving them a hard time,” said Bo Manor coach Ray Pulaski, who was in charge of the South. “It was a lot of fun. It was a really good time.”
“They had so much fun,” Morlock added. “It was a blast.”