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Wildcats lead West past East 8-4

June 09, 2002|By ERIC GALVAN

Sports Writer

IMPERIAL — When Brawley Union High School baseball player Matt Smith took the field for the second annual Imperial Valley Baseball 2002 Senior All-Star Game here Friday, all he wanted to do was enjoy his last high school baseball game and help the West all-stars to a victory.

Instead, Smith stole the show as he went 3-for-4 with two doubles and five RBI, earning game MVP honors and leading the West to an 8-4 victory over the East.

"Coming into this, all I was thinking about was having fun out here and just playing baseball," said Smith, whose Brawley teammates joined with players from Imperial and Southwest to comprise the West roster. "And really, I didn't expect to have this kind of game.

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"You go into this kind of game just glad to be able to play with teammates one last time and play with guys you haven't played with before," said Smith. "Overall, I just think it was a good experience."

It wasn't just Smith who had a good game representing the Wildcats. David Santana was 3-for-4 with two runs and a double. Brandon Burnett had a double and scored. He also started the game on the mound, threw two innings and gave up no runs, and Javier Calles pitched two innings, gave up no hits and struck out four on his way to earning the win.

"We wanted to win this game, but at the same time, we just wanted to have fun. That's basically what this game is all about," said Burnett. "In this game you're playing against the best in the Valley, so you just want to hold up and do what you've been doing all year."

Also contributing in the West's win were Southwest's Ricky Lopez going 2-for-2 with two walks, three runs and an RBI and Imperial's Brenden Lopez and Julian Lopez, each scoring runs.

Representing the East were players from Calexico, Calipatria, Central Union and Holtville high schools. Central's Raul Cazares led the East's offense, going 2-for-4 with two runs and a double followed by the Bulldogs' Damien Lopez, who went 2-for-2 with an RBI.

The Hornets' Hector Maciel and Vikings' Isaac Mejia each scored runs for the East. Taking the loss was Holtville's Edward Castro.

Calexico's J.P. Gonzalez had the best outing on the mound for either side, throwing four innings, allowing no runs and only two hits and striking out six. He started for the East but got no decision.

While the game was a chance for Valley seniors to suit up one last time and do battle on the diamond, it also was an opportunity for them to show their skills to college scouts in attendance.

With a handful of his players graduating this year, Imperial Valley College baseball coach Dave Drury got a chance to catch one last glimpse at possible future Arabs.

"This was a good ball game and gave the guys a chance to play together one last time. But from a recruiting aspect, it was good to have them all there so you can get another look at them," said Drury. "I thought Matt Smith really shined out there … he looked really good. I was impressed with J.P. Gonzalez. He pitched really well and showed a strong arm in the outfield.

"Then you had guys like David Santana, Brandon Burnett, Ricky Lopez, Edward Castro all do some really good things out there," Drury said. "For a lot of these guys, it's their last chance to shine. And a lot of the times it only takes one good game like this for them to get noticed. Really, I wish I could have all those guys playing at IVC."

Some of the players may end up going to IVC to play baseball, some may go elsewhere to play baseball and some may never play competitive baseball again.

But despite what the future holds, it was still a chance for them to play one more game.

"I told these guys before the game that I didn't care if they won or lost because this was just about coming out and having fun," said West coach Pedro Carranza, representing Brawley. "This was just a great opportunity for all these guys to play a baseball game without having any pressure on them.

"It doesn't matter what the final score was because everything turned out really well. Everyone played and everyone had fun."

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