Make yourself at home, Matt Dallas.
The Gregori High graduate tripled, drove in two runs and pitched a scoreless ninth inning as the Blue whipped the Gold 14-2 in the 28th annual Modesto Sunrise Rotary Baseball Classic at Stanislaus State, his destination this fall.
Blue pounded out 17 hits and struck for four runs in the first, third and sixth innings, removing all of the drama from an all-star game that featured some of the top junior and senior talent in the Stanislaus District.
Patterson’s Santiago Cantu was 2 for 2 with a triple, two RBI and two runs scored, while Gregori junior ace Julien Favela notched the victory. The hard-throwing right-hander allowed no earned runs in two innings.
Jaguar teammate Jimmy McClenaghan reached base three times out of the leadoff spot for the Blue. The Delta College-bound outfielder singled twice, drove in one, and plated three runs.
Pitman’s A.J.Encalade set the rout in the motion with a bases-clearing single in the first inning. Encalade’s shallow base hit was misplayed by a Gold outfielder, allowing McClenaghan, Cantu and Dallas to score.
The brightest of the all-stars was Dallas, who was named one of the game’s two MVPs. He shared the spotlight with Oakdale flame-thrower Brock Whiting, who singled and pitched a clean ninth inning for the Gold. Whiting allowed a leadoff single, but struck out the next three batters. He hit 90 mph on the radar gun in the press box.
With the game long decided, managers Jim Davis of Gregori (Blue) and Nate Gregory of Oakdale (Gold) saved their best arms for the final frame. Whiting silenced the Blue, a rarity on Saturday evening, and Dallas pitched around a walk and closed the game with a strikeout.
All eyes were on Dallas, a two-time Sunrise Rotary all-star and a crucial piece in Stanislaus State’s most recent recruiting class. The Warriors added the two-time Modesto Metro Conference MVP during the signing period in April, and coach Kenny Leonesio marveled at his acquisition’s all-around game on Saturday evening from the press box.
Leonesio said Dallas will likely be called upon to pitch, catch and hit for a program that graduated 16 players and reached the CCAA Tournament last month.
Dallas started behind the dish on Saturday and nearly threw out two runners at second base. His errant pick-off throw at third led to the Gold’s first run in the second inning, but he more than made up for it with his bat.
Dallas ranked among the Sac-Joaquin Section’s leading hitters this past spring, boasting a .510 average with 50 hits, and he picked up where he left off. After he was plunked in his first at-bat – an 81 mph fastball to the shoulder – Dallas stretched the lead to 5-0 with a single into left field.
One inning later, he and Cantu roped back-to-back RBI triples into opposite gaps at Warrior Baseball Field. Like Dallas, Cantu, the 2016 All-District Player of the Year, will become a student-athlete in the Cal State system. The Tigers’ slick shortstop has signed with San Jose State.
McClenaghan also had a run-scoring single and Favela scored on a passed ball in the third for the Blue, who had 11 members of the Gregori baseball program in its dugout, including seven players. The seven selections were the most of any team, followed closely by Oakdale (six) and Beyer (four).
Gold was led by Whiting, Hughson’s Andruw Mendes (two hits) and Orestimba outfielder Mike Garcia, who started a triple play in sixth with an acrobatic catch. Garcia lost his footing in left field and dropped into a seated position, but still managed the catch.
Moving on the play, Blue baserunners at first and second were doubled-up, completing the triple play.
Beyer had a strong showing. The MMC runner-ups sent four players to the game, and all four impacted the final box score. Josh Escobar and Trevor Ravelli had run-scoring hits in the sixth, while Chase Fetzer had an RBI sacrifice fly in the first. Ben Polack also singled.
A collection of Sunrise Rotary all-stars will play the Merced County champions on Saturday at Merced College. The North won the 8th annual Merced County All-Star Baseball Game, 2-1.