City all-stars make most of 'once-in-a-lifetime opportunity' to play at Oriole Park
By Mike Frainie
For The Baltimore Sun|
Apr 18, 2015 | 6:57 PM
Christian Spence had been to Oriole Park many times, with the last time being an Orioles playoff game last season. On Saturday, the Friends School senior got the opportunity to pitch from the same mound his heroes pitch from.
He made the most of the opportunity, leading the East All-Stars to a 15-8 victory over the West All-Stars in the 5th Annual President's Cup at Camden Yards.
The game matches seniors from public and private schools in Baltimore City. This season, the East team consisted of players from the National Academy Foundation High School, Dunbar, W.E.B. DuBois, Archbishop Curley, Friends School, Digital Harbor, City, Mervo, Friendship Academy of Engineering and Technology, and Patterson.
The West team featured players from the Academy for College and Career Exploration, Mount St. Joseph, Douglass, Edmondson, Boys' Latin, Carver, Gilman, and Jemison.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me," said Spence, who allowed only one hit in two innings pitched. "I'm going to the University of Baltimore next year, so this is the highest level I will play at. I'll never forget this."
This is the fifth season for the President's Cup, which began as a 16-team tournament but was reinvented as an all-star game last year by by City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young with two goals: making sure more students got the opportunity to play at Camden Yards, and getting players from public and private schools from the East and West to play together.
The game itself was far from a classic, with numerous passed balls, wild pitches, and errors, but the teams were still playing for city bragging rights.
"I know a lot of people on the other team," said Digital Harbor catcher Chris Day, who contributed a double in the win. "I respect them, but it's still nice to say we won."
Early on, it didn't look like that would be the case for the East team. After the east-siders took a 1-0 lead on a throwing error in the first, the West team responded with eight runs in the third inning.
The West tied the game on an Alex Mardiney (Gilman) sacrifice fly to right field that scored Malik Holloway (Douglass), and then the west-siders strung together a series of wild pitches and hit batsmen around a Brian Crowder (Douglass) single and a Jason King (Gilman) triple to take the 8-1 lead.
The East responded in the bottom of the inning, using a Zach Loewenberger (Friends) double to ignite a furious rally and cut the lead to 8-6. They also benefited from several wild pitches and a passed ball in the inning.
After getting another run in the bottom of the fourth on a Luke Nakich (Curley) pop-up that scored Jerrod Smith (FAET) and cut the lead to 8-7, the East took the lead for good in the fifth.
The East tied it on an overthrow that allowed Eric Exum (Digital Harbor) to score, and then got walks to Major Bullock (Dunbar) and Jamar Hawkins (City). After a strikeout, Day doubled to center. The hit scored both Bullock and Hawkins, and gave the East a 10-8 lead that it would never relinquish.
"We just kept battling," said Dunbar manager Bernie White. "You could see the fight in these kids. They got down 8-1 and they just never gave up."
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