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Robinson All-Stars savor rare baseball opportunity

The South's Will Manship, left celebrates with catcher Hunter Parish, right, after scoring in the seventh inning. The South defeated the North by score of 3 to 1 in the 2019 Brooks Robinson High School All-Star game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
The South's Will Manship, left celebrates with catcher Hunter Parish, right, after scoring in the seventh inning. The South defeated the North by score of 3 to 1 in the 2019 Brooks Robinson High School All-Star game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. (Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

Chesapeake-Anne Arundel’s Tyler Shadle never expected that he’d one day have to face Dylan Young, a pitcher from his own team.

He definitely didn’t think he’d ever stroke a single to Camden Yard’s right field off him.

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“It felt a little weird. First time ever hitting against him in my life,” Shadle said. “Never crossed my mind that I’d play against him. Always been on his team, always been a part of him, us.”

After a fruitful high school career together, the two faced each other with grins — Young for the North, Shadle for the South — in the 2019 Brooks Robinson All-Star High School Game, an annual showcase featuring the creme de la creme seniors of Maryland high school baseball.

For the second year in a row, the South picked up the win, 3-1. South River outfielder Kavi Caster rocked a thunderous RBI to center field in the bottom of the seventh — and stole a pair of bases as icing on the cake.

“It felt pretty good,” Caster said. “That was my first hit of the game and it couldn’t have come at a better time, so I felt pretty happy with that.”

After Howard pitcher Gabe Delgado secured another goose egg for the South, striking out Lane Gay of St. James, Broadneck’s Nick Gatton did one even better.

The Bruins hurler threw a one-two-three inning in the top half of the first half, locking down his own business by tossing the third out to first base.

“I was nervous at first, but just went out there and threw like I always throw,” Gatton said. “Got the job done.”

Caster played his part, eyeing a five-pitch walk off Gerstell ace and Navy commit Reece Early. Broadneck outfielder Ryan Smolen did his former county rival a favor, progressing him within 90 feet of a run on a sacrifice.

Within four pitches, Caster relished a moment few high school ballplayers ever get to know — running across home plate at a major league park.

“It’s pretty fun to be playing with these kids that I’ve been playing against for a long time now,” the senior said. “It’s a cool experience to be teammates with them for once.”

After the North knotted things up in the sixth, South players waited until the last minute to bring the trophy home.

Old Mill’s Nick Cinquanto sacrificed to put North Caroline’s Will Manship on third; Caster brought the runner home. Then, from his now quite comfortable perch on third base, Caster sprinted home as Smolen delivered an RBI double.

“He represented Broadneck well,” Gatton said. “I’m proud of him for that.”

Coach Greg Mervis of Annapolis Area Christian School, who helped helm the South squad, relished the chance to coach at Camden Yards.

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“It’s funny because I told my wife that I’d love to coach this game and two days later, I got the email saying I was gonna coach. It was great,” Mervis said.

Four Old Mill players played for the South — Hunter McKean, Hunter Parish, Cinquanto and Ian Adams — which seems like a lot from one team, but it isn’t the record. Archbishop Spalding set that mark in 2016 when five of 15 South players were Cavaliers, as well as one coach.

A little over a week after winning the championship game, the Patriots contingent flashed their skills again.

McKean struck out Loyola Blakefield catcher Emmet Reynolds to strand a North runner in the fourth. Then, in the fifth, his own teammates supported him. Cinquanto helped turn a double play to end the inning.

Though the South claimed the game last year, the North still rules the series 19-16-2, plus one game rained out in 2006.

Another Baltimore-area standout had his moment in the late evening sun as well, as Calvert Hall outfielder Garrett McIlhenney logged a single in the top of the sixth for the North. Howard’s Delgado, too, completed another successful outing in the top of the seventh, protecting the South from falling behind without giving up a hit.

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