2014 UA Game Recap (Innings 1-3)
The first pitch was thrown out by former Cub Lee Smith. His Major League career spanned 18 seasons and eight different teams, with most of his big league service time in a Cub uniform. He was a seven time All-Star, appeared in 1022 Major League games, and recorded 478 saves. He currently stands in third place on the All-Time Saves list, behind only Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera. Fittingly, he fired a strike to American team catcher Justin Cohen to get things started at the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Corey Zangari took the mound first for the home National team. He delivered a 92 mph fastball for ball one to start the game. A couple of pitches later, Mitchell Hansen laced an 81 mph slider to left center field for a line drive double. Kyle Tucker walked, and then Dazmon Cameron took a fastball between the shoulder blades for a free trip to first base.
After seeing the first three hitters reach base, National team skipper Sean Casey came out for a quick chat with Zangari. Whatever he said worked, as the next three hitters would be retired in order.
With the bases loaded, Chris Betts struck out looking on a 92 mph fastball on the outside corner. The infield fly rule was signaled by the umpires on a Ke’Bryan Hayes popup to Kody Clemens at second base, bringing Demi Orimoloye to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. He hit a firm grounder right to Ryan Mountcastle at third base, who calmly stepped on the bag to end the inning.
It should be noted that Wyatt Cross did a very good job of blocking breaking balls in the dirt with runners at third base, his work behind the plate no doubt went a long way in keeping the American team off the board in first inning.
In the bottom half of the first inning, Mike Nikorak started left handed hitting Nick Plummer with a 76 mph breaking ball for strike one. After a fastball strike, he caught Plummer looking with a good change on the outer half. After striking out Franklin Reyes on a good fastball up and in at 93, he induced a grounder back up the middle from Ryan Johnson. Brendan Rodgers ranged easily to his glove side from shortstop, making what wasn’t necessarily a routine play look routine. Johnson got down the line in 4.4 on the inning ending 6-3.
Nikorak showed feel for a quality three pitch mix, with notably good feel for his low 80s sinking change. In addition to a physical frame at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, his arm works well and the ball leaves his hand with great life.
After scuffling early in the first inning, Corey Zangari maintained his post mound visit form and cruised through the top of the second inning. He appeared much more in control through his second frame, working more confidently from the windup and with what looked like a looser and more relaxed delivery. His fastball has clear cutting action, and he spins a quality breaking ball with depth in the low 80s. His delivery is sound, and his arm works well from the glove and out front. Zangari doesn’t have any experience to speak of on the summer showcase circuit, making his inning to inning turnaround quite impressive.
He got Devin Davis to ground out to Ryan Mountcastle at third base on an 88 mph fastball, then had Brendan Rodgers out front the entire at bat before punching him out on a 90 mph fastball. Alonzo Jones Jr. stood in from the left side to face the right handed Zangari with two outs. He reached out over the plate and bounced one right back to Zangari to end the inning 1-3, a groundout in which he posted a time of 4.07 down the line.
Ashe Russell took the mound in the bottom of the second inning to face left handed slugger Josh Naylor. He buried a 78 mph breaking ball on his back foot for a swinging strikeout to bring up right handed hitting Ryan Mountcastle. In what would become a pattern in this game, Mountcastle lined a 92 mph fastball hard to center field – only to be robbed on a nice diving play by Dazmon Cameron, who came in and to his glove side on the hard liner slightly towards the right center gap. Nicholas Shumpert swung through a 93 mph fastball to end the inning.
Russell was impressive in a stress free outing. He worked quickly and filled up the zone with fastball strikes between 92 and 95 mph. He showed the ability spin his breaking ball early in the count for a get-me-over type offering, and then grabbed a little more depth and bite with his two-strike version.
Following Corey Zangari’s two innings of work, Beau Burrows took the mound in the top of the third inning. He worked almost exclusively with his fastball, which topped at 94 and and sat 91-92. He offers deception in his delivery, with his glove side arm working up and through the window through which hitters are looking for the ball. This along with his loose and live arm through release gives his fastball extra sizzle beyond what the radar gun says.
He started with the American lineup back at the top, with left hander Mitchell Hansen standing in to leadoff the inning. He got Hansen to fly out on a 93 mph fastball, and then induced a bouncer up the middle off the bat of Kyle Tucker on another 93 mph heater. Nicholas Shumpert ranged to his left to cleanly play the ball, but he slipped as he was working his feet around to make the throw, allowing Tucker to reach safely with an infield single. Tucker was looking to run, and broke ahead of Burrows’ move to the plate, prompting Beau to spin and deliver a strike to Kody Clemens at the bag for the second out.
Enter Dazmon Cameron with two outs and nobody on. He worked a walk to bring cleanup hitter Chris Betts to the plate with two outs. Cameron was interested in getting into scoring position for the run producers, and ran early in the count. Wyatt Cross had other ideas behind the plate, and threw a strike that checked in a little under or a little over 1.9 depending on which watch in the area you looked at. For the record, Cameron’s steal time was right around 3.2. We didn’t have a watch on Burrows, but you can do the math and figure he was no worse than 1.2 or so to the plate, considering Cameron was out by a step or so.
We hadn’t seen Luken Baker since he won the home run derby in impressive fashion. Apparently hitting moonshots out onto Waveland Ave isn’t the only thing he can do, as he showed when he took the mound in the bottom of the third inning. He topped at 93 and was generally aggressive to the zone with his fastball. He showed a change around 80 and a breaking ball in the low to mid 80s.
He made quick work of Wyatt Cross, only three fastballs were needed to record the backwards K – good morning, good afternoon, and good night on 93 mph heater. Left handed hitting Kody Clemens stood in next, and hit a solid fly ball towards the left center field gap on a 92 mph fastball. Demi Orimoloye got a great jump on the ball from CF, and ran it down easily with an outstretched glove arm and an easy stride.
Following a nice play towards the left center gap, Orimoloye was tested the other way by Cal Raleigh – who stood in left handed against the right hander Baker. Raleigh got a 91 mph fastball a little off the end for a soft fly ball into the right center field gap. Orimoloye and Kyle Tucker had a miscommunication that resulted in the ball on the outfield grass instead of in the leather for the third out.
Raleigh kept his feet moving out of the box, and was able to reach second base on the error. A wild pitch advanced him to third base for the National team’s first real scoring threat. Nick Plummer stood in with a chance to put a run on the board, but he struck out swinging on a 91 mph fastball to end the threat.