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All American Game | Story | 8/22/2021

East No-Hits West, Wins Classic 9-1

Blake Dowson     
Photo: East celebrates winning 2021 Classic (Perfect Game)
SAN DIEGO – Dylan Lesko set the tone right from the first pitch of the game for the East squad during this year’s Perfect Game All-American Classic, as he and nine teammates combined to throw the first no-hitter in Classic history.
 
Lesko started the game throwing fastballs at 95, 96, and 96 for a quick three-pitch punchout, and there was no looking back from there. Behind a number of great at-bats from its lineup, the final scored tilted toward the East, 9-1.

“We had a good performance all around,” Clint Hurdle, manager of the East team, said. “We played good defense, we got good at-bats when we needed them, and that’s a recipe for success. And on the mound we were strong. We had some skilled guys pitching all night long.”



Hurdle himself said he enjoyed the atmosphere at the Classic, witnessing the exuberance for the game you don't always get in the professional ranks.

He was also glad to pass on any insight he could to the next generation of star players.

“The youthful enthusiasm is cool,” Hurdle said when asked about coaching these young prospects. “They don’t know what they don’t know and there’s some things we can help them learn along the way. They’re the next wave eventually and my thought is we’ve got the opportunity to help them build a good foundation to continue to show up and play the game.”
 
Andruw Jones led off the bottom of the first for the East, beating out an infield single. The country’s top 2022 player, Elijah Green, then doubled into the left-center gap to move himself and Jones into scoring position, before Paxton Kling’s sacrifice fly brought Jones around to put East on the board.
 
Jackson Ferris and Tristan Smith, the two top left-handed pitchers in the country, tackled the second and third innings for the East squad with little trouble. Ferris, and IMG Academy product, worked into the mid-90s during the second inning. Smith, a South Carolina native and Clemson commit, struck out one during his inning.
 
The East fireworks really started in the bottom of the third inning, as Jayden Hylton singled right back up the middle, doing a good job of keeping his hands inside a fastball. Luke Heyman immediately followed Hylton at the plate, worked a long at-bat, and on pitch eight unloaded on an inside fastball and delivered it to the left field bleachers at Petco Park for a two-run home run, giving the East team a bit of breathing room at 3-0 at that point.
 


Heyman was named the MVP of the All-American Classic for his efforts.

“I think setting the tone early was something that just put them away,” Heyman said. “We got up early soon and after that our pitching was just dominant.”
 
The ball was handed to Brandon Barriera to tackle the fourth inning for the East squad. Justin Crawford walked to start the inning and proceeded to steal both second and third base in the inning, nothing too surprising considering dad, Carl Crawford, stole 480 of those in his big league career.
 
However, Barriera was able to work around the speedy Crawford on the bases, striking out two and getting a groundout to second base to end the threat.
 
Caden Dana tossed a hitless fifth inning thanks in part to a strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out to end the inning, and gave way to two-way standout Nazier Mule for the sixth inning.
 
Mule, who is committed to play at Miami, put himself into the Perfect Game record books on this night, becoming the first pitcher ever to hit triple digits on the radar gun. The righty lived at 99 his entire inning, and on a pitch in which he induced a Kaden Martin ground out, he hit 100.
 


Mikey Romero, the first All-American named in this class as a local San Diego product, had landed on first base earlier in the inning thanks to a fielder’s choice, moved his way around the bases thanks to a balk and wild pitch, and scored on Martin’s ground out, making the score 3-1 in favor of the East and providing the only run of the game for the West.
 
Jurrangelo Cijntje made history right on the heels of Mule, becoming the first both-handed pitcher to appear in the Classic, as he tossed a hitless seventh for the East team. Working at 95 mph from the right side and 88 mph from the left, Cijntje worked a 1-2-3 inning, getting a right-handed punchout to end it.
 


The East squad then stretched its lead in the bottom of the frame thanks to a large number of contributors.
 
Jared Jones singled to start the inning, followed by walks from Cole Young and Ryan Clifford. Roman Anthony knocked a run in with an RBI ground out to make it 4-1, a subsequent wild pitch made it 5-1, and an RBI single from Termarr Johnson, the Classic’s Home Run Derby champion, ballooned the lead to 6-1.
 
Newly-reclassified Brady Neal, another IMG product, smoked a ground-rule double down the left field line for his second hit of the night, moving he and Johnson into scoring position, and RJ Austin connected on a middle-middle fastball right back up the middle to score them both, with the lead standing at 8-1.
 
Hayden Murphy and Jacob Miller combined for the three eight inning outs, Murphy getting two to start, and Miller relieving him.
 
Back out on the mound to start the ninth inning, Miller started Iowan Tommy Specht out with a first-pitch fastball, which Specht poked out into right field, and looked to be headed toward grass for the West squad’s first hit, but Clifford came running in to make a sliding catch to preserve the no-no.
 


Riley Stanford, another two-way standout in the class, locked down the final two outs, and completed the no-hitter for the East team.

Heyman mentioned the unspoken, unwritten rule that appeared to be happening throughout the game. No one in the East dugout really brought up what they were putting together inning by inning, except for one minor slip-up from the MVP.

“Nobody was really talking about it [in the dugout]; they didn’t want to jinx anything,” Heyman said. “I mentioned it without thinking but then I didn’t say another thing about it. There was no real emotion, just normal conversation; nothing about the no-hitter.”
 


The West team had a number of highlights as well, with four pitchers tossing scoreless innings. Noah Schultz, a 6-foot-9 lefty from Illinois, threw a scoreless second inning while striking out two. Jaden Noot threw a nine-pitch scoreless fourth, and Chase Shores followed with a five-pitch fifth, both scoreless, and Ian Ritchie Jr worked around two hits to give his team a clean inning of work as well.

For each and every player involved in the 19th annual Perfect Game All-American Classic, regardless of whether they represented the East or West, will remember this for the rest of their lives. It's an experience not many prep players get, only the best of the best, and they will be able to share the memories they made with each other as they cross paths throughout their careers.

“It’s been an amazing experience,” Heyman said. “Being able to be here with the best players in the country and playing in a beautiful stadium is just something that I’ve dreamed [about] for awhile. I’m blessed and excited that I’ve been able to live this experience; it’s going to be one that I’ll remember forever.”
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