Ocean View High’s Gavin Kennedy did it with his bat and also his arm Tuesday night in the Kiwanis Club of Greater Anaheim’s 52nd Orange County High School All-Star Baseball Game for seniors.
Kennedy earned the MVP award for his efforts after he was two for two with a run batted in, helping the South earn a 6-3 victory over the North at La Palma Park’s Dee Fee Field in Anaheim.
Kennedy also pitched a scoreless fifth inning for the South, getting around a leadoff walk by Kyle Morrell. With two outs and Morrell at third, the inning ended when the Cal State Fullerton-bound Kennedy got Dalton Sloniger of Valencia to ground out to shortstop.
“It’s definitely one of the more special things that has happened to me,” Kennedy said of winning game MVP honors. “All of these guys are going D1, they’re going somewhere to play baseball. They’re obviously the best players of [Orange County], and it’s just so special to me.”
Kennedy also singled home the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth against Katella right-handed pitcher Michael Hill of the North. Capistrano Valley’s Lance Gardiner and Dana Hills’ Zach Waters each drew one-out walks, and Kennedy followed with a single to right for a 4-3 lead.
“It was a 2-0 count, so I was just looking for a fastball to drive,” said Kennedy, who also singled to center in the third inning. “I did find a fastball to drive, and I kind of just missed it a little bit, blooped it in. I guess it worked.”
The North scored three runs in the top of the second inning against Corona del Mar right-hander Tom Wilcox, bound for Tennessee, to take a 3-0 lead. But Laguna Beach’s Cutter Clawson, bound for BYU, helped the South rally in the bottom of the fifth of the nine-inning game against Esperanza’s Gavin Lizik.
Clawson hit a bloop double down the left-field line with one out. Newport Harbor’s John Olmstead followed with a single to right and stole second base, before Irvine’s Grant Lockwood walked to load the bases.
Clawson and Olmstead would both score on wild pitches, while Lockwood came home on a sacrifice fly from Dylan Tanner of Trabuco Hills to tie the score at 3-3.
“It’s awesome,” said Clawson, who also had a single in the seventh. “Being with all of my buddies, I just felt relaxed at the plate and did what I did. I just had a fun game. I’ve known some of these kids growing up since real young, so it just helped me relax a lot.”
Clawson’s Breakers teammate, Dartmouth-bound outfielder Kolton Freeman, also contributed for the South, as did Edison’s Matt Swartz, bound for Stanford. Laguna Beach coach Jeff Sears was an assistant coach for the South.
Huntington Beach’s UCLA-bound Josh Hahn was on the roster but not present for the game because the Oilers were having their baseball banquet Tuesday night, Sears said.
Marina’s Cory Lewis, bound for UC Santa Barbara, played first base and contributed for the North.
Freeman went hitless in three at-bats for the South, but he did contribute a sliding catch in center field in the third to rob Orange Lutheran’s Jasiah Dixon of an extra-base hit.
Smiling after the game, Freeman admitted he took a bad angle to the ball.
“I totally misread it,” he said. “My [Laguna Beach] teammate, Grady Morgan, was known for lining himself up and slowing himself down before he dove. I did the exact same thing. It totally worked out. The best part is, my girlfriend can’t tell the difference between a real diving catch and a non-real one. It looked sick either way.”
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