KEARNS — He was a 3A pitcher going up against a lineup loaded with stars from larger schools.
But Judge Memorial's Joe Pond didn't flinch in the inaugural Marshall Gates Foundation/Deseret News all-star baseball game on Tuesday night. Instead, he went out and dominated for three innings, and led the American team to a 9-7 win over the National team at Gates Field.
Pond struck out seven of the 10 batters he faced, and gave up just one hit in the game's first three innings. He wasn't intimidated by the hitters he went up against, mainly because he's played against most of them for years in comp ball.
"It was a very strong lineup," Pond said. "I had nothing to lose. I just wanted to come out and have fun and relax, throw strikes and see what happens."
Pond, who later added an RBI single in the ninth inning, earned the game's MVP award (the Mount Olympus Player of the Game) for his efforts.
Bingham's Brock Whitney, the only player to record two extra-base hits in the game, was the lone hitter to reach base against Pond. He crushed a double to the left-field fence. He said the pitch he got a hold of was simply a mistake by Pond.
"I knew I wasn't going to hit his slider," Whitney said. "I was just hoping for something straight. He tubed it for me, and I got around on it."
Whitney hit a home run in the fourth, the first inning the National team no longer had to face Pond, to start a five-run rally. The National team stayed in control until the seventh when the American team finally strung together some offense.
Lone Peak's Daniel Sechrest led-off the seventh with a single, and Pine View's Marcus Littlewood smacked an RBI double. Riverton's Scott Shipley gave the American team the lead for good with a two-run single.
A total of 34 players were picked to play in the game by a selection committee and nearly all of them recorded at least one highlight. Judge's Keenyn Walker had a hit, made some tough catches in center field, and pitched the ninth inning to close out the victory. Pine View's Nate Littlewood hit a home run for the American team.
Gunnison's Kevin Nay was the only 2A player to participate in the game, and he made a case for more small-school players to be selected to play in future years. He gave up the home run to Nate Littlewood, but got himself out of a jam in the inning he pitched.
"The Nay kid did a great job," said Judge coach Jeff Myaer, who coached the American team. "Talent is talent. In this media or information age so to speak, if you can play you'll get noticed."
Pine View's Austin Smith won the Home Run Derby that was held prior to the all-star game. He hit 18 home runs in two rounds of competition. Hitters were given nine outs in each round. Smith defeated Pine View teammate Nate Littlewood 9-4 in the final round.