All-Star game provides fun

Tribune Chronicle / Eric Murray John F. Kennedy coach Don Lee, standing, and other coaches look on during Friday’s Mahoning Valley Scrappers High School Valley All-Star Classic.

NILES — The Trumbull County All-Stars defeated the Mahoning County All-Stars, 8-6, in Friday night’s Mahoning Valley Scrappers High School Valley All-Star Classic at Eastwood Field.

A Mahoning fielding error in the bottom of the eighth inning brought in two Trumbull runners to break the 6-all tie and put Trumbull ahead for good.

“As long as the kids are having fun,” Trumbull and former John F. Kennedy coach Don Lee said of his all-star experience. “The third inning I said (to my players), ‘You gotta score a run and I’ll buy tacos. So they scored the run, and now for tacos.”

With the game tied at 6 in the bottom of the eighth, Mahoning brought in, ironically, a Trumbull player to pitch. A number of all-star game invitees on both sides were no-shows, and Bristol’s Khyle Halstead was ultimately placed on the Mahoning roster.

With two outs and a runner on, Halstead faced Bristol teammate Brock Sloan, who he proceeded to beam on the leg. An error at short brought around Lakeview’s D.J. Morvay and Sloan for the go-ahead runs, before a 1-2-3 top of the ninth inning finished off Mahoning.

Tribune Chronicle / Eric Murray Western Reserve's Jeep DiCioccio looks at a pitch during Friday's All-Star Game in Niles.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Mahoning and Western Reserve coach Ed Anthony said. “Exciting game — there was a few errors that caused some runs unearned. You’re going to get that from guys not playing together sometimes. I think the kids had fun, I had fun, and it was a pretty entertaining game.”

Mahoning took an early 1-0 lead on an RBI groundout from Boardman’s Coleman Stauffer, who broke up a double play attempt at first base that would have ended the inning.

After JFK’s Joe Millard tied the game with a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the third, Trumbull took its first lead in the fifth with J.T. Wolke’s (LaBrae) groundout to second base, bringing home Maplewood’s Alex Bell.

Both sides exchanged leads, including a Dan Klase (Poland) two-run double to the right-field gap to put Mahoning back ahead, 5-4, in the seventh. On the play, Western Reserve’s Jeep DiCioccio went back and tagged third base, and was nearly run over by a trailing Stauffer, on their way to home plate.

“I slid, and then I turned around to see where the ball was — because I thought (Klase) had lined out somewhere hard. I wanted to get back and I turned around and missed a base, so I had to go back and get the base,” DiCioccio said, laughing. “I didn’t want me to get out, as well as the kid behind me, overrunning me.”

Tribune Chronicle / Eric Murray Teams from Trumbull and Mahoning Counties take a picture following Friday's All-Star Game in Niles.

Mahoning surrendered the lead once again in the bottom of the seventh as Champion’s Michael Turner — who, along with Niles’ Tre Martin, was named all-star game co-MVPs, blasted a double near the 375 sign in right-center field, scoring Michael Massucci (Howland).

Trumbull then went ahead, one batter later, when Hayden Sherwood’s (Newton Falls) liner to left field scored Turner. Mahoning tied the game in the eighth with a Don Drummond (Poland) fielder’s choice, but ultimately, it was not enough for Mahoning.

As for Lee, his long coaching career recently came to an end at JFK, and Friday marked his next-to-last game, overall. Lee will coach his grandson, Ryan, in a northeast Ohio all-star game in the near future, before hanging it up for good.

“It’s a nice thing,” Lee said. “I just can’t say enough about everybody. The staff here, the staff at Kennedy, it’s just been a great career for me. I’m happy for the kids, just to see these kids go on, and I wish them all good luck in whatever they decide to do. It’s been a lot of fun, it was nice coaching with my two sons. Good way to end the season.

“If it would have ended in a tie, so what.”

Tribune Chronicle / Eric Murray Howland’s Michael Massucci warms up in the on-deck circle during Friday’s Mahoning Valley Scrappers High School Valley All-Star Classic. Massucci had a run scored for the Trumbull team at Eastwood Field in Niles.