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All American Game | Story | 7/3/2019

San Diego, here we come

Cory Van Dyke     
Photo: Jordan Thompson (Perfect Game)
MARIETTA, Ga. – Fifty of baseball’s brightest stars will soon gather in San Diego on August 11 for the 17th annual Perfect Game All-American Classic. Last night at Petco Park, where the game will be played for the 11th year in a row, the festivities began as the first two All-Americans were named.

Third baseman Kevin Sim (Torey Pines HS) and shortstop Jordan Thompson (Helix HS) were selected at a press conference on Tuesday night. The two southern California products, from San Diego and Chula Vista respectively, had known about the selection since Friday, but had to patiently wait until the unveiling last night.

“Friday night our coach told us that we were going to be getting the call,” said Thompson, an LSU commit. “I got that call at like 12 o’clock, so I couldn’t sleep. I was just super excited about it. I can’t be more excited and honored to be a part of that game.”

Sim and Thompson have long watched the Padres play at Petco Park. Now, they will soon be the ones taking the field there. It’s already left an impression on both players as they’ll have the opportunity to play in front of their friends and family in their hometown.

“It’s a huge honor to be able to represent San Diego, our hometown,” said Sim, a University of San Diego pledge. “To be considered one of the top 50 is a great honor. I can’t wait for the game.”

“I’ve been going to the game since I was 10 years old,” Thompson said. “I’ve always dreamed about being a part of that game. To be able to be given that opportunity is really exciting. I can’t wait to take it all in and be a part of the game with all the great guys that are going to be in it.”

During Tuesday’s rendezvous, Sim and Thompson were able to chat with former Padres great, Trevor Hoffman, who also serves as the Classic's Honorary Chairman. The second all-time saves leader with 601 career saves, Hoffman shared a few words of knowledge with the players, and it wasn’t about his unhittable changeup.

“He said to take it all in and enjoy it,” Sim said. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

It’s also a special instance for the San Diego Show, the travel organization that Sim and Thompson both play for, and head coach Brian Cain. Cain has coached two of Hoffman’s sons in the past and caught a first hand glimpse of the consummate professional that Hoffman is.

“They get to be around a guy like [Trevor] who’s truly a Hall of Famer in every facet on and off the field,” Cain said. “I think it’s great for those guys to be around him and truly hear some words of wisdom and hopefully learn something from him.”

For Cain, it’s a moving moment to see the two players that he has been coaching from such an early age begin to fulfill their dreams. He’s been with both Sim and Thompson through the highs and the lows, but it’s never been just about what takes place between the lines on the diamond.

“It’s emotional because I’ve had both of them since they were 9 or 10 years old,” Cain said. “It’s not just the baseball. We have an off the field relationship that’s truly a good friendship. It’s not because they’re good baseball players, they’re good kids.”

And while the actual All-American Classic game is the pinnacle of the experience, there’s so much more to be offered over the time in San Diego. The players also get to visit Rady Children’s Hospital, a moving encounter that undoubtedly shapes a new perspective.

“That week is going to change their lives forever,” Cain said. “They’re going to get to see another side of life that I hope that they embrace and understand how lucky they are and how special it is to have the talent that they have. I think it’s really important that that part of the game is really taken seriously by these kids and to heart.”

While knowing this secret over the past five days, Sim and Thompson have been competing at the 2019 WWBA 17u National Championship in Georgia with Cain and the San Diego Show. 

It made for a crazy adventure on Tuesday. 

Sim and Thompson completed a game on Monday night, where the Show defeated St. Louis Pirates 2020, 11-3, as the duo combined for three hits and three RBIs. They woke up the next morning and caught a flight to San Diego in order to make an appearance at the press conference. Later that night, Sim and Thompson boarded another flight and arrived back in Georgia this morning at 5:30. 

All of that traveling sounds like enough of a task to endure, but instead, Sim and Thompson estimated they slept for three hours before heading to the San Diego Show’s last game of pool play this morning at 11:30. The Show shutout 5 Star Carolina 17u Taylor 6-0. Sim added a hit, and Thompson’s three-run home run broke open the game for the Show who will now advance into bracket play Thursday.

“That’s the lifestyle of a minor leaguer,” Sim said. “You have to grind it out, and we just got a little glimpse of it today and yesterday.”

“If you truly want it, the cream is going to rise to the top,” Cain said. “These guys are built that way and that’s even why they made the game.”

While Thompson and Sim have patrolled the Nos. 3 and 4 spots in Cain’s lineup, it’s really the pitching that has carried the San Diego Show to a 7-0 start at the 17u WWBA. Joseph Ingrassia and Kyle Casper combined for a five inning no-hitter on Friday night. Paulshawn Pasqualotto followed suit, tossing a seven inning no-hitter with 12 strikeouts on Sunday. And Wednesday, Dante Schmid scattered just four hits in a complete game shutout.

The Show has surrendered only seven runs in the seven games. With Sim and Thompson in the middle of the lineup, and a pitching staff that is locked and loaded for the bracket play ahead, the Show have as good a chance as anyone to walk away with the 17u WWBA crown.

“Our pitching is going to carry us through,” Thompson said. “We have a lot of guys that have been pitching really good, I’m really excited to see what they’re going to bring to the table going into the playoffs.”

Jordan Thompson (l) and Kevin Sim (r) were announced by Honorary Chairman Trevor Hoffman as the first two members of the 2019 Perfect Game All-American Classic squad on Tuesday night in San Diego.

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