Local seniors face off for the final time in annual All-Star game

Local seniors face off for the final time in annual All-Star game

Staff photo / Brian Yauger Jackson-Milton’s Billy Sloan throws a pitch at Eastwood Field during the High School Valley All-Star Classic.

NILES — Trumbull and Mahoning counties threw their top seniors at each other in the yearly inter-county showdown at Eastwood Field.

This year, the Trumbull team overcame a 6-0 deficit to come back and top the Mahoning squad 13-10.

“We finally started to put the ball in the play hard,” Trumbull coach Andrew Burnett said. “They pitched well, (Boardman’s) Gavin (Hyde) shut us down early, but they battled. A lot of teams could have put their heads down and it could have been ugly, but they came back. It started with the bottom of the order, guys put the ball in play. We got a couple of bunts get put down and we ran well. It was a fun baseball game to be a part of.”

All of Mahoning’s initial six runs came in the top of the third as they filled up the bases.

After the Trumbull squad escaped the third, it was three-up, three-down until the bottom of the sixth where the Trumbull County All-Stars responded in kind, sending seven players around the bases to take the lead.

Kennedy’s Jake Hettrick took the mound for Trumbull County during the middle innings and was lights out.

So much so that he shared the MVP honors with Harding pitcher Caden Maffit.

“It’s definitely an honor to play in a game like this with some of the best talent in the Mahoning Valley,” Hettrick said. “And to come out here and get a win just means everything and in my last high school game, I really can’t ask for much more.”

As the Harding coach, Burnett has seen Kennedy in action quite a bit, so the familiarity was there.

“Obviously, Harding and Kennedy, we know him pretty well, but he did what he always does,” Burnett said. “He’s a gamer. He loves the game, he played well. He came in and shut them down, had a big hit, and scored from second on a passed ball today.”

In his final game wearing a Kennedy jersey, Hettrick was just happy to make his school and community proud.

“It means everything is put on the Kennedy jersey, no matter the sport,” Hettrick said. “It’s surely the greatest experience of my life and I just wanted to give my all for Kennedy and everybody that supports us.”

All-Star games from a coach’s perspective are sometimes difficult to navigate. In Burnett’s case, they didn’t get to see many of the Trumbull County teams. That being said, for him it was a fun challenge to see what they could do together.

“It’s a challenge with the ones we don’t play against,” Burnett said. “We’re a bigger school, so we don’t see some of these kids. So it’s a challenge trying to get everybody to fit in how they fit, but it’s a pleasure coaching against or coaching some of these guys who we’ve coached against all the time. There’s Champion kids we battle every year, obviously Kennedy. We know some of these guys so it was a lot of fun being on a team and being able to put some of these guys in and move them around. It was fun.”

The same with the players. Hettrick’s top player he was happy to suit up with was Champion’s Joey Fell.

“I was wanting to play with Joey Fell,” Hettrick said. “He’s a great, great athlete. And to share the dugout with him was nice. It’s just a great experience, you can’t ask for a better time.”


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