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All American Game  | Story  | 8/28/2022

West Beats East in Extras at PGAAC

Blake Dowson     
Photo: Perfect Game
PHOENIX, Ariz. -- On a night that belonged mainly to the pitchers, Ryder Helfrick broke what was a 15-inning hitless streak dating back to last year’s Perfect Game All-American Classic for the West squad by tripling in the top of the seventh inning to the center field warning track, and later scored on a Cooper Pratt RBI to tie the game up at 1-1.

“Coming into that at-bat, I knew there was a new pitcher,” Helfrick said. “He threw a first-pitch fastball as a ball, so I was sitting on fastball all the way, and I got it and didn’t miss.”

Helfrick and Pratt were right back in the middle of the action again in the top of the 10th inning, when extra innings rules placed baserunners on every bag with one out on the board to start the frame.

Helfrick laced a two-RBI single into left field on the first pitch of the inning to give his team its first lead of the game at 3-1, and Pratt followed up with a two-RBI double of his own to push the lead to 5-1.

An RBI fielder’s choice from Justin Best was all the East squad could muster in the bottom of the 10th inning, and the West celebrated a 5-2 victory at Chase Field by cannonballing into the pool on the other side of the right-center field wall.

Helfrick was named the MVP of the 20th annual Perfect Game All-American Classic immediately following the game.

“There’s nothing much better than that,” Helfrick said. “It’s been great. Thank you to everybody putting this [event] on.”

The arms were the story in this one, though. Twenty pitchers combined to give up just seven hits, and struck out the best hitters in the country 22 times by the end of the night.

Noble Meyer, the No. 2 overall prospect in the 2023 class and top pitcher, was handed the ball to start the game for the West. He delivered a scoreless inning that, combined with the East’s Cameron Johnson’s scoreless top of the frame, set the tone for the entire game.

Travis Sykora gave up the lone earned run for the West squad, although the big Texan wasn’t without his own highlights on the mound. Sykora ended his frame with a 100 mph fastball for a punchout, joining Nazier Mule as the only other member of the 100 mph club at the Classic.

It was zeros from there on out in the earned run department for the West squad – Zander Mueth, Dylan Questad, Gabe Gaeckle, Aidan Keenan, Zane Adams, Justin Lee, Cole Schoenwetter, and Cal Randall all did their part and put zeros to earn the win for the West. Keenan and Lee both put together two-strikeout innings, while Schoenwetter punched out all three in his inning of work.

The East squad had plenty of talent on display, as well. Through the first six innings, the West squad was yet to produce a hit off the East hurlers.

Johnson was relieved by a train of Charlee Soto, Alexander Clemmey, Garrett Baumann, Colton Hartman, Liam Peterson, Landen Maroudis, Josh Knoth, and Bryce Eldridge to finish up the first nine innings, and all did their part with impressive stuff.

Peterson and Knoth went about their business in similar ways and were similarly impressive, both striking out a pair while utilizing a nasty breaking ball.

The shining light on offense for the East squad was Florida’s Braden Holcomb, who put together a two-hit game and scored the first run of the contest to give his team an early 1-0 lead.