Dylan Lesko, Luke Heyman Star As East Pitches A No-Hitter In Perfect Game All-American Classic
SAN DIEGO—Dylan Lesko set the tone. The rest of the East’s pitchers followed.
Lesko pitched a dominant first inning to start a combined no-hitter as the East beat the West, 9-1, in the Perfect Game All-American Classic at Petco Park on Sunday night.
Lesko (Buford, Ga.) retired the side in order on only 12 pitches in the first inning and struck out a pair. Jackson Ferris, Tristan Smith, Brandon Barriera, Caden Dana, Nazier Mule and Jurrangelo Cijntje each followed with a hitless inning to carry the no-hitter into the eighth, and Hayden Murphy, Jacob Miller and Riley Stanford each recorded two outs apiece to finish it off.
“It was amazing,” said Lesko, the top-ranked high school pitcher in next year’s draft class. “We knew this whole week our team was special, what we could do. The whole week we wanted to bring the East a win. We all just played our game tonight. Everyone did their job, and it was a special outcome.”
Lesko was the catalyst for that special outcome. The 6-foot-3 righthander struck out leadoff hitter Justin Crawford on three straight fastballs to start the game, induced a routine grounder to second base from Jackson Holliday and finished his outing by striking out Jayson Jones looking at a breaking ball. His fastball sat 95-96 mph, his fading changeup sat 82-83 and his breaking ball came in at 79 mph in his lone inning of work. He threw nine of his 12 pitches for strikes.
“This was something I’ve been looking forward to,” Lesko said. “Just watching it every year on TV and finally being out here and seeing the fans and the atmosphere, it had me going.”
The rest of the East pitchers followed suit. Barriera (Hollywood, Fla.) stood out with a 92-94 mph fastball and a pair of swing-and-miss breaking balls from the left side while striking out a pair in the fourth inning. Mule (Paterson, N.J.) repeatedly touched 99 mph during the sixth inning to record the highest velocity of the game. Cijntje (Pembroke Pines, Fla) threw both righthanded and lefthanded in a scoreless seventh, sitting 93-95 mph from the right side and 88 mph from the left side. In the ninth, Ryan Clifford (Raleigh, N.C.) charged in and made a sliding catch in right field to record the first out of the inning and keep the no-hitter intact. Stanford (Gainesville, Ga.) closed it out with a groundout and a strikeout to end it, sending the East players streaming onto the field in celebration.
East manager Clint Hurdle, the former Rockies and Pirates manager who has spent more than 45 years in professional baseball, said it was the first no-hitter he could remember being a part of.
“I can’t remember another one,” Hurdle said. “Player, coach, manager, anything. It’s pretty crazy.
“We had a good performance all-around. We played good defense. We got good at-bats when we needed them. That’s a recipe for success, and off the mound we were strong. We got some skilled guys pitching all night.”
Catcher Luke Heyman (Longwood, Fla.) caught the first three innings of the no-hitter and hit a two-run home run to take home the MVP award.
Following Lesko’s dominant top of the first, the East jumped out to an immediate 1-0 lead in the bottom of the inning. Druw Jones (Suwanee, Ga.) beat out an infield single to lead off the frame and, two batters later, Elijah Green (Windermere, Fla.) ripped a 95 mph fastball for a double into left-center to put runners on second and third. Paxton Kling (Roaring Spring, Pa.) followed with a sacrifice fly to center to bring Jones home.
Heyman added the big blow in the third inning. The Florida commit pulled his hands in on a full-count, 93 mph fastball down and in and drove it over the left-field fence for a two-run homer to make it 3-0.
“I was seeing it pretty well and then 3-2 I was just thinking ‘be on time with the fastball and just be able to put it in play and make something happen,' ” Heyman said. “Luckily there was one I could drive and I got a piece of it.”
The East piled on with five more runs in the seventh, capped by a two-run single by RJ Austin (Atlanta), and Clifford added one final run with a sacrifice fly in the ninth.
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NEWS AND NOTES
The top velocity of the game belonged to Mule. The Miami commit began the game as the East’s starting second baseman before taking over on the mound in the sixth and sat 97-99 with a low-80s slider. He didn’t allow a hit in his lone inning of work, although he did allow the West’s lone run after he walked the leadoff batter and he came around to score.
The second-highest velocity of the game belonged to righthander Brock Porter (Milford, Mich.). The Clemson commit started for the West and touched 97 mph in his one inning of work. He ranged from 94-97 mph and allowed two hits and one run with two strikeouts.
West first baseman Carsten Sabathia (Alpine, N.J.), the son of CC Sabathia, shined defensively with a pair of impressive plays. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Sabathia made a diving stop to his right to rob Cole Young (Wexford, Pa.) of a base hit. He quickly got up to one knee and made an accurate throw to pitcher Andrew Dutkanych (Indianapolis, Ind.) covering first for the out. In the seventh, he leaped to grab a chopper and stepped on first base in one athletic motion, whirled around and fired a one-hopper to home plate to nail the runner trying to score from third, but the umpire blew the call and called the runner safe despite the tag being down well in time.
Righthander Chase Shores (Midland, Texas) had another sharp defensive play when he snagged a comebacker off the bat of Jayden Hylton (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.). Shores, an Oklahoma State commit, touched 95 mph and retired the side in the fifth on only five pitches.
The game featured five sons of ex-major leaguers. Jones is the son of Andruw Jones; Crawford is the son of Carl Crawford; Holliday is the son of Matt Holliday; Sabathia is the son of CC Sabathia; and East infielder Cam Collier is the son of Lou Collier.