Donning their high school baseball caps one more time, many of Maryland’s best senior players concluded their illustrious careers Sunday afternoon at the 39th Brooks Robinson High School All-Star Game.
Playing in front of friends and family at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Severna Park’s Jackson Merrill, Gilman’s Casey Bishop and Atholton’s Branden Brown said adieu with award-winning performances during an 8-8 tie that began with a prerecorded video from Orioles great Brooks Robinson.
It was the first time the game was played since June 2, 2019, after the 2020 event was canceled because the coronavirus pandemic.
Merrill reached base three times, including a two-run home run in the top of the seventh inning that helped forge the tie and secure him the South’s Most Valuable Player award. The left-handed hitter, who also walked and scored twice, sent a shot over the digital clock planted on the right field fence.
Merrill also had perhaps the defensive play of the game, ranging into the edge of the outfield grass to field a ground ball before throwing out the runner at first base in the fourth inning.
“It’s my first time on a major league field, so it’s nice to get used to,” said Merrill, who is ranked the 123rd best prospect by MLB.com for next month’s Major League Baseball draft. “I know some of these guys, so it was nice to finally play with them instead of against them.”
Bishop earned the North’s MVP award largely behind a two-run double into the left-center field gap to help fuel his squad’s four-run sixth inning. The Towson University-bound infielder also singled in a run in the second inning.
“I really enjoyed the experience,” Bishop said. “It was awesome. I come here all the time and watch games, so to play here was awesome.”
Brown preserved the tie with a scoreless seventh inning on the mound for the South, including a pair of strikeouts, the last one looking to end the game. For his performance, Brown was named the South’s Most Outstanding Pitcher.
“This was such an honor,” Brown said. “I was thinking after COVID last year, I didn’t know if we would have a chance to play this year. My coach at Atholton believed in me and gave me all of the innings [and] Camden Yards. It’s like, come on. Where else would you want to be in Maryland? It’s been great.”
Archbishop Spalding outfielder Thomas Joseph looked like the odds-on favorite to win MVP honors for the South after his two-run triple to right field that brought home Reservoir’s John Welch (RBI, run) and Huntingtown’s Dakota Wright for a 5-4 lead in the top of the third. Joseph said the triple came on a second curveball thrown his way.
“I made sure I was watching for it,” he said.
An error on a ground ball to short allowed Crisfield’s Doc Daniels to reach safely for the South in the seventh inning. South River’s Cael Huyer (walk, run) struck out before Merrill hit his two-run homer, which the Falcons shortstop called a “2-0 fastball.”
John Carroll’s Cody Kurek walked twice and scored a pair of runs while St. Paul’s Jack Van Valkenburgh singled in four at-bats. Indian Creek pitcher Evan Selmer worked out of some trouble in his two innings to forge a shutout of the North side.
North County’s Carson Lowman looked to do the same in his two innings, but a loss of command in the sixth, as well as a missed popped fly in the infield — a ball Lowman was prepared to catch before being called off — allowed the North to score four runs off the left-hander. He worked a scoreless fifth and struck out the first two batters in the sixth before a trio of walks, and the missed fly ball and Bishop’s double gave the North an 8-6 advantage.