Three players from Exeter, one from Woodlake and one from Farmersville play their last game at Visalia Rawhide Ballpark
By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
VISALIA – The 59th East-West All-Star Baseball Game on Saturday, June 15, had one of the closest outcomes in recent years. The West continued their winning streak taking the game 5-4. But more important than the score was the four Foothills area athletes who had the chance of a lifetime in one final high school game. A couple of them on the biggest stage of their careers.
Exeter’s Jaykob Acosta is no stranger to pitching at Visalia Rawhide Ballpark. In his four-year career he has thrown four times in the minor league ballpark and got a win in the Visalia Tournament Small School Championship Game in 2018. He said his final time stepping on the mound was a bittersweet feeling.
“It was a great feeling to play my final game here in this ballpark,” Acosta said.
Acosta, Division I signee to CSU Bakersfield, did get the nod to start for the East Squad. He struck out five and walked four in three innings worth of work. In the top of the third, he gave up a home run to Redwood’s Hunter Bryan, who was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 32nd round of the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft, to give the West a 2-0 lead. Afterward, Acosta struck out the side.
“We have a lot of good kids on our team, and it was tremendous honor to be called on to be the starter,” Acosta said.
At the plate, Acosta had two singles in the game.
“I might be finished wearing the blue and gold for Exeter, but I will continue wearing it for Bakersfield,” Acosta said.
Acosta was joined by two other Exeter teammates in the starting lineup, Bryson Montano, and Sal Briones. The duo played left and center field respectively. In the bottom of the second inning both players tried to start a two-out rally by reaching on a pair of singles. Each of them zipped past the West’s third baseman. However, they were left stranded as the following East player grounded out.
Briones reached on an error in the fourth inning as well, and reached third on a hit-and-run. He finished the game 1-3.
“It felt good to be able to come back out here,” Briones said. “Being able to come out here and get a hit in my final game felt great.”
Montano, with runners on third and second in the bottom of the fifth inning, hit an RBI infield single which pulled the East to within one run at 3-2.
Woodlake’s Robby Stevenson started the game in the hot corner playing third base. He kept every ball hit to him in front, and eventually got to show his stuff on the pitcher’s mound in the seventh inning. He pitched in the seventh and eighth. He struck out three and did not allow a run.
“This was awesome,” Stevenson said. “It was a whole new experience in front of a whole bunch of people.”
Farmersville’s Noah Vasquez entered the game in the top of the sixth. He replaced Montano in left field. He made two difficult catches close to the wall in the seventh and eighth innings. In the bottom of the eighth, he led off with a single back up the middle of the infield. It was his only hit of the game.
“This was a great experience to play in this ballpark,” Vasquez said.