CHICAGO—Few remember who won and who lost showcase or all-star games at the amateur level. But the way the American team won the 2012 Under Armour All-America Classic will be remembered, thanks to Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier.
The two Georgia prep outfielders, the two best prospects on the rosters at Wrigley Field, hit back-to-back extra-base hits and Frazier scored the winning run on a pair of wild pitches to power the American team, skippered by Billy Ripken, to a 7-6 victory against Larry Bowa’s National team.
Meadows and Frazier were the two most anticipated players in the game and didn’t disappoint. Frazier showed off his 6.4-second speed in the 60 with a stolen base in the first inning following a walk, and even though he battled cramps in his calf muscles during the game, he still was able to bang doubles to left and right field.
Meadows showed the smooth, easy swing throughout the game that engenders comparisons to Colby Rasmus, and keyed the ninth-inning rally off losing pitcher Brett Morales (Tampa, Fla.), the game’s hardest thrower. Morales hit 93 mph in the ninth and struck out leadoff hitter J.P. Crawford with a nasty breaking ball to start the frame, but he hung an 0-2 breaker to Meadows, who slammed it down the left-field line for a triple.
With flexible lineups available to the managers, Ripken inserted Frazier into the four-hole to follow Meadows, and he let a 1-2 fastball get deep before rifling a line drive off the right-field wall to score Meadows and tie the game. Two of Morales’ next three pitches were wild, and Frazier loped home easily, joining Meadows in the dugout in a familiar scene.
“We’ve played together on and off since we were nine years old, with a travel team called the Storm,” Meadows said. “He’s a good friend. We haven’t played together as much since his family moved a little further away but we have played together a lot this summer, so it’s cool to have him here.”
Virginia righthander Connor Jones retired all six batters he faced to earn the victory for the American club and was one of three pitchers to toss two scoreless innings. Jones, a firm believer in the National Pitching Association principles as espoused by the likes of Tom House and the University of Virginia’s pitchers, crouched on the mound and used his quick tempo to pepper the bottom half of the strike zone with 90 mph sinkers. He wound up striking out three, matching Morales for the game’s best total.
“I love being a sinkerballer,” Jones said before the game. “I love throwing two-seamers, working quickly, it just fits my personality.”
Bowa’s National team got two scoreless frames out of North Carolinian Hunter Harvey, his starter and son of ex-big leaguer Bryan Harvey, as well as a quick, clean inning from Roger Clemens’ son Kacy. Righthanders Jared Brasher (out of Alabama), A.J. Bogucki (Pennsylvania) and Thomas Hatch (Oklahoma) combined to retire nine in a row as Bowa’s bunch rallied from a 5-3 deficit to take a 6-5 lead into the ninth.
The key hits in a two-run seventh-inning rally came from Indiana two-way talent Trey Ball, who laced a one-out double to center; and RBI singles by Los Angeles sweet-swinging lefty Dominic Smith and Louisiana outfielder Justin Williams, who won the pre-game home run derby.
As with many prep all-star games, the game had its sloppy moments. The two pitching staffs issued 13 walks and three wild pitches, and generous scoring decisions counted four errors. There were flashes of strong defense, though, including National catcher Brian Navaretto catching two runners stealing and a nifty 4-6-3 double play started by Tennessee prep Dalton Dulin.
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