Friday, July 19, 2013

South Beats North 4-1 in Cal Ripken League All Star Game; Greg Olenski Wins Derby

by John Vittas

The South squad defeated the northern teams of the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League Wednesday at Shirley Povich Field in Bethesda.

Ian Rice (North) and Sean Miller (South) both hit solo home runs to lead the power surge, while Ryan Mincher added an RBI single in the second inning to give the South a lead they would not relinquish.

John Austin-Shepherd pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn MVP honors.

"It's a great achievement," Austin-Shepherd said. "It was awesome to get to watch all the talent in this game."

South Head Coach Doug Creek thanking his team for their contributions Wednesday

Rice and Josh Ingham (North) were the only players with multiple hits in the game. Robin Mowatt (North) and Brandon Hinkle (South) were the only pitchers to pitch a scoreless inning with multiple strikeouts without allowing a hit or walk.

Over twenty scouts from various Major League teams were in attendance as the league continues to provide elite Division I talent and professional prospects.

"We all come out here to have fun, but everyone wants to play pro ball," Austin-Shepherd said. "It's awesome to get to play in front of pro scouts."

Four pitchers were clocked at 90 miles an hour, with the Express' Nik Nowottnick touching 93 on the gun.

"A lot of the guys I saw tonight can definitely play at the next level," South head coach Doug Creek said. "That's what we're trying to do with the Cal Ripken League is get these guys exposure."

Creek is the head coach for the league's Southern Maryland Nationals. Both he and North skipper Jeff Rabberman used over 26 players in the game.

"I spent a lot of time making sure the boys were in positions where they were playing the best," Creek said. "Everybody got in, everybody got to hit, everyone did well."

Before the game, DC Grays' outfielder Greg Olenski won the league's Home Run Derby, crushing five dingers and edging out Vienna's Shaun Wood and the T-Bolts' Jake Taylor.

"I was just trying to find a ball middle-in," Olenski said. "I was catching myself being a little too anxious up there instead of taking my time, calming my nerves and letting those balls fly."

The Home Run Derby contestants - Champion Greg Olenski (right)

The Ripken League was founded in 2005 and has doubled in size since its inception, with Wednesday marking its ninth All Star game.

"It's huge to have support for the league. Leagues like this are so important," Creek said. "I'm going to do whatever I can to help grow the league."

With about a dozen games remaining in the Ripken League regular season, eight team are within six games of second place, with the top six teams qualifying for the playoffs.

To hear my interview with Doug Creek, click here

To hear my interview with MVP John Austin-Shepherd, click here

To listen to my interview with HR Derby Champ Greg Olenski, click here

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