Area’s best meet today

When you get all of Mahoning and Trumbull county’s best baseball players in the same place at the same time, you know it will be a good time.

The fifth annual High School Valley All-Star Classic presented by the Mahoning Valley Scrappers will take place at 6 p.m. today at Eastwood Field.

For Trumbull County, Rick Yauger and his staff at Champion will be leading the way. He last took the gig two years ago and looks forward to it again.

“It’s an honor to get a chance to coach this again,” Yauger said. “For some, this is their last chance to play baseball in high school and for others who are playing in college, it’s a fun last high school game. It’s a great atmosphere and great facility. Some of them know each other from playing against one another. Others know each other and have played with each other, so that’s always fun.”

Yaguer said he will use a continuous lineup to ensure all 29 players get a chance to bat in the game that will be nine innings instead of the normal seven innings of high school baseball.

As for the players, the county is putting out some of the best — like Liberty first baseman David Sewell.

The Leopards went 15-10 with a 10-6 All-American Conference Blue Tier record. They came in third in the division when most didn’t see them competing.

“I think that once he finished basketball, he was a three-sport guy with football too, we started practicing and we thought we could turn the corner,” Liberty coach Tommy Otto said. “I tell them all the time that I wish I could’ve gotten to them sooner. He led all tiers of the AAC in RBI with 27. He was a building block and laid the foundation for the future.”

It seemed to be about proving the doubters wrong and rebuilding Liberty baseball back into a respectable program for Sewell, Otto and the Leopards.

“We had a chance to be pretty good,” Otto said. “They hadn’t won in awhile and we won more this year than the last four years combined. All the kids were around that atmosphere. (Sewell) gave the team a stability that wasn’t there before. Freshmen like Dwight Parker and Trevor Strohmeyer were great, but without Sewell, I don’t know if we get over the hump.”

Yauger said he knows the game is all about fun, but the kids will still take it serious.

“It’s for fun, but if they are turning the scoreboard on, it is competitive,” Yauger said. “If they are keeping score, it matters. You want to make sure that they enjoy themselves and have a nice time.”