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All American Game | Story | 9/4/2020

West makes it 5 straight at PGAAC

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: PG All-American Classic (Perfect Game)

OKLAHOMA CITY – Here in the cowboy capital of the country, it would be tempting to sit back and say, “So, this is how the West was won.” In reality, at least in the context of recent results at the Perfect Game All-American Classic, a more accurate adaptation of that phrase would be, “So, this is why the West wins so often.”

Led by a four-pronged attack at the top of its order, the West pounded out 11 hits, built an early four-run lead and then held on to top the East, 7-5, at the 18th annual PGAAC, played on a warm, dry and rather delightful late summer evening at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.

The win was the fifth straight for the West in this all-star game series and its ninth in the last 10 years. The westerners now own a 12-6 advantage in a game that has been played without interruption since 2003, although the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic certainly threatened this year’s contest.

The West’s Alex Mooney, Jordan Lawlar, Ian Moller and Max McGwire – hitting 1-through-4 in the order for most of the game – combined to deliver seven hits, drive in four runs and score six more with Mooney and Lawlar doing most of the damage out of the top two spots in the order.

Mooney tripled, added a pair of singles and scored three times; Lawlar singled twice, walked, scored three runs himself and drove in another one to lead the way.

“We came in here just trying to feed off of each other’s energy and I’m excited we were able to do what we could do and get the win,” Lawlar, a Vanderbilt commit out of Irving, Texas, told PG postgame. “I was ready for it and I’m happy we were able to keep a comfortable lead for most of the game and get the win.”

Mooney, a Duke commit from Rochester Hills, Mich., was named the game’s Most Valuable Player for his contributions. He too acknowledged that he and Lawlar were clicking at the top of the order while also crediting solid preparation for the team’s success.

“Jordan and I, we were talking a lot at the hotel and at the field and we were looking forward to the game,” Mooney said after being drenched with the obligatory cooler of ice water that inevitably awaits an all-star game’s MVP. “I’ve done a lot of machine work; I was cranking the machine up to 96, just trying to get on time with my velo.

“When you’re facing guys like (Andrew) Painter and (Pierce) Coppola and everyone else that I faced, you’ve got to be on time for the fastball and that’s what I was doing today.”

Moller doubled and drove in a run and McGwire singled and drove in a pair of runs from the 3 and 4 holes, respectively, providing the perfect complement to Mooney and Lawlar.

The West scored a single run in the bottom of the first, put up a three-spot in the bottom of the third, added two more in the fifth and one in the ninth (10 innings were played) to account for their scoring.

The East also scored in its half of the first, added another single run in the third and made things interesting with one in the top of the ninth and two in the 10th, those last two coming courtesy of a two-run home run off the bat of Harry Ford.

The East’s Jay Allen and Brady House were both plunked by pitches in the top of the first and after a double-steal, Allen scored the game’s first run on a wild pitch. The West answered in the bottom half when Mooney was issued a leadoff walk, Lawlar singled and McGwire came through with an RBI single.

The top of the third featured a leadoff triple from Joshua Baez, who eventually scored on a wild pitch to give the East a short-lived 2-1 lead. The West really took control in the bottom of the third thanks to a leadoff walk to Joe Mack, a single from Mooney, an RBI single from Lawlar and a scalding RBI double to left from Moller.

The fifth offered more fireworks from the West with Mooney once again lighting the fuse when he delivered a one-out triple. After a pair of walks loaded the bases, Mooney crossed with another run when McGwire reached on an error.

The East scored its run in the top of the ninth on an RBI single from Edwin Arroyo that cut the West’s lead to 6-3 but the West got the run back in the bottom half thanks to a leadoff double from Daylen Lile; he eventually scored on a passed ball. Ford’s two-run home run in the 10th, which followed a one-out walk to Rob Gordon, completed the game’s scoring.

There were some pretty good pitching moments, as well, and three one-inning outings stood out. East lefthander Mason Albright entered the game in the fourth and needed only nine pitches to record a couple of strikeouts and a pop-out to short.

West righthander Eric Hammond came on in the top of the fifth and struck out the first batter he faced. After giving up a double to Arroyo, he settled back in and struck out the next two would-be hitters, needing only 16 pitches overall – most of them breaking balls – to get out of the early jam.

Finally, West righty Cale Lansville proved to be the most efficient of all, throwing only eight pitches while striking out one and inducing a ground-out and a line-out in a 1-2-3 top of the seventh.

This 18th annual PGAAC faced many challenges just making sure the game could be played at all from a health and safety standpoint. In the end, it proved to be a dandy with the 54 top prospects proving like they almost always do that anything is possible.

“Oklahoma City really rolled out the red carpet for us,” Mooney said while also thanking PG for a job well done. “Anything we needed like food, gear – if our gear didn’t fit they gave us new stuff – shoes, just everything. It was all provided and it was sweet.”

Roughly an hour before first pitch,  five All-Americans took part in the finals of the PGAAC Home Run Challenge, with four of the participants coming from the East Team. And the quintet put on quite a show at this Triple-A ballpark, combining for 70 home runs while using both wood bats and the Rawlings Velo BBCOR bat.

When the competition concluded, no one dropped more bombs than the East’s Benny Montgomery, an outfielder out of Lewisberry, Pa., and a Virginia commit. Montgomery launched 14 balls out of Chickasaw Bricktown, just two more than his two nearest competitors; six of his home runs were delivered using a wood bat.

“I just had to remember to stay within myself; trying too hard isn’t going to do anything,” Montgomery said after accepting his trophy. “Once you get near the end you just need to muscle it. I’ve just got to stay within myself and that’s what I did here and it really felt good.”

The East’s Tommy White (St. Pete Beach, Fla.) and Joshua Baez (Boston, Mass.) both hit 12 out of the park and the East’s Casey Saucke (Rochester, N.Y.) dropped 11. Max McGwire (Irvine, Calif.), the only participant from the West Team, finished with nine; McGwire is the son of former MLB slugger Mark McGwire.

“That was a lot of fun,” Montgomery said after accepting his trophy. “It was kind of stressful because I started out a little rough but it was fun in the end and I got into a little bit of groove and it felt good.”

In another important pregame happening, the PG Cares Foundation announced that this year’s All-Americans had collectively raised $119,145 to benefit the PG Cares Rise campaign for underprivileged children and its continued support for pediatric cancer research. PG Cares partnered with Toby Keith Foundation’s OK Kids Korral in fund-raising efforts this year.

The top two fund-raisers both came from the East Team. Jayden Melendez from Miami, Fla., led the way by raising an eye-popping $13,100 with Shane Panzini out of Spring Lake, N.J., bringing in an impressive $10,318. Both players were awarded autographed Toby Keith guitars for their efforts.

Jordan Lawlar named PG Jackie Robinson POY Award winner

Shortstop Jordan Lawlar, a Vanderbilt commit from Irving, Texas, on Friday was named the 17th recipient of the prestigious PG Jackie Robinson Player of the Year Award. The announcement of the Jackie Robinson Award winner was made on PerfectGame.TV in the top of the eighth inning during play at the PG All-American Classic.

Lawlar is now on a list of former winners that includes current big-leaguers Justin Upton (2004), Mychal Givens (2008), Bryce Harper (2009), Daniel Norris (2010), Lance McCullers Jr. (2011) and Clint Frazier (2012).

“It’s amazing,” Lawlar, who is Black, said when asked what it meant to win this prestigious award. “Jackie Robinson was a great person and he created the opportunities that we have today.”

A special talent by anyone’s measure, the 6-foot-2, 185 pound Lawlar entered the three-day PGAAC experience as the No. 7-ranked overall prospect in the 2021 class and the No. 1-ranked shortstop prospect; he is ranked 1/1 in the state of Texas.

“It’s kind of a confirmation of all the hard work that I’ve been putting in off the field and kind of behind closed doors,” Lawlar told PG when asked about his feelings on being named a PG All-American. “So it’s more of a confirmation of all the work I’ve put in, and it’s just exciting to be with my guys and play against that competition.”

Eleven other All-Americans also received awards that were announced on PG.TV during the game’s telecast (home state in parentheses):

Baseball America Top Pitcher: Andrew Painter (Florida)

PG Nick Adenhart Award: Harry Ford (Georgia)

Trackman Award: Jackson Jobe (Oklahoma)

MLB Network/Sirius XM Two-Way Player: Jac Caglianone (Florida)

G-Form HBP (Heart, Bravery & Passion) Fearless Player: James Wood (Maryland)

Rawlings Gold Glove: Ian Moller (Iowa)

Diamond Kinetics Offensive Player of the Year: Brady House (Georgia)

Re-Play 5-Tool Award: Benny Montgomery (Pennsylvania)

Augusta-Scholar Athlete: Braden Montgomery (Mississippi)

K-Motion-Power: Tommy White (Florida)

WIN Reality Top Performer: Chase Petty (New Jersey)

Jackie Robinson Player of the Year: Jordan Lawlar (Texas)

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