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Under Armour All-America Game, powered by Baseball Factory Recap

Chicago, IL The inaugural Under Armour All-America Game had the makings of an instant classic. As 35 of The New Prototypes walked into the dugouts of hallowed Wrigley Field it became official. They were Under Amour All-Americans. These 35 young men were going to be the ones representing the Baseball Factory and Team One squads as they battled it out for bragging rights. However, Sunday the 17th was more than just a game, it was the next step in what hopes to be a long career in baseball for these 35 rising seniors.

The morning started like any other game day morning. The players all gathered to ride the bus over to the ballpark. However, this would be the only similarity to a regular baseball game. They were headed to Wrigley Field. A place where Ernie Banks played his entire baseball career. A place where countless historical events have taken place and on August 17th another was added to this great ballpark. The two teams arrived and strolled into the clubhouse walking into the life a pro ballplayer. As the players located their nameplate hanging above their locker they noticed their jersey hanging just like the pros. The players went form the locker room down to the field, for the first time. As they stepped out onto the grass at Wrigley it hit most of them. Bobby Borchering (Alva, FL) said, “I’m just trying to slow things down, soak it all in.”

As the players stretched, scouts and family members started to fill in the seats in the lower deck. Next came batting practice. The players first chance to take a swing for the bleachers in the outfield or even put one out on Addison Avenue or Waveland Avenue. As the crack of the bat echoed throughout  the stadium a few lucky fans that were on a Wrigley Field Tour got some souvenirs as player after player put balls into the left and right field bleachers. After batting practice the players did a quick infield and outfield warm-up. Fans were let into the game and the seats started to fill up. Over 2,000 fans entered the gates at Wrigley to take in a day of high quality baseball.

The finals for the homerun derby had two players from each team. Representing the Baseball Factory team was Jayce Boyd (Cantonment, FL) and Stephen Perez (Miami, FL). Representing the Team One squad Josh Elander (Round Rock, TX) and Cade Krueter (Newhall, CA). Josh Elander stepped up to the plate first. In the same fashion as Josh Hamilton did in the Major League Homerun Derby, Elander put on a display of raw power. Belting eight homeruns in the first round, one of which landed on Waveland Avenue, Elander had set the tone for the rest of the players. Cade who had earned his place in the finals by belting a few homeruns the day before at Standard Bank Stadium, managed to get out a couple but fell short of the mark set by Elander.

Stephen Perez stepped up first for the Baseball Factory team and as the only lefty in the field belted three homers in his first round. Jayce Boyd stepped in and clearly felt the pressure as he hit four straight shallow pop-ups. However, Jayce found his groove toward the end of his round and managed to tie Perez with three homers. A Hit-Off was going to determine who would face off with Elander in the finals. Each batter would get five swings. Perez again started things off and hit two homers. Boyd came in with one in his first swing. However, Boyd quickly had three more swings with no homeruns. In his last swing he landed his second homer into the left field bleachers. We were now going to an Alternating Hit-Off. Perez did not get one out in his first chance and that would prove costly, as Boyd stepped in and crushed the first pitch he saw, which completely left the yard.
In the finals Elander who had been sitting for quite some time started off and put a strong statement out with four homeruns.  However, just like Josh Hamilton, Josh Elander would not prevail in the finals even after leading the way in the first round. Boyd who had found his swing in the end of his round stayed hot and put out five before he even had seven outs. Jayce Boyd not only won the Homerun Derby, presented by Mattingly Baseball, but he had put four of his total homeruns out onto Waveland Avenue.

As 1:05pm drew closer the players took the field for the start of the game. Jacob Turner (St. Charles, MO) started on the mound for the home squad, Team One. He faced off against Brian Goodwin (Rocky Mount, NC) who after six pitches hit a single between second and first. Turner never let Goodwin cross the plate, as he managed to get out of the inning. Matthew Purke (Lufkin, TX) started on the mound for the Baseball Factory team and completely fooled every Team One batter he faced. There was no scoring until the second when the Baseball Factory got the bases loaded, and with the help of a few errors pushed four runs across the plate. Mychal Givens (Tampa, FL) knocked in the first two of the Baseball Factory runs with a hard single down the first base line. The Baseball Factory added its fifth  and final run two innings later.

Team One did not get a run until the fourth inning when Donavan Tate (Cartersville, GA) stole second and third then scored on a sacrifice fly. David Renfroe (Batesville, MS) came through for Team One in the eighth with a two-run home run off of Jake Eliopoulos (Newmarket, ON). Renfroe also struck out five batters during his performance on the mound. Renfroe had entered the game as a pitcher after an errant throw down to second base caught Christopher Jenkins, (Westfield, NJ) who was pitching, on his elbow. Jenkins left the game, but would be fine with just a bruise. Even with Renfroe’s homerun closing the gap to 5-4 that would be as close as it would get, as Eliopoulos closed out the ninth by shutting down the Team One hitters.
With David Renfroe striking out five of the six batters he faced and his two-run homerun he was the consensus Most Valuable Player for the Team One squad. Mychal Givens took home the Most Valuable Player for the Baseball Factory team after going 2 for 3 with three RBI’s. Max Stassi (Yuba City, CA) also excelled going 3 for 4 with two RBI’s for the Factory.

Overall the 2008 Under Armour All-America Game, powered by Baseball Factory was a huge success. With over 2,000 fans, over 90 scouts, and 35 players representing two countries and 15 states, everyone left with memories and an idea of where the future of pro baseball will be when the 2009 Major League First Year Draft rolls around.

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Billy O’Conner
Head Coach at Xavier University, on Chris Givin


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