Baseball / Cal Ripken League cruise past Sunbelt League 13-5 in showcase opener

Cal Ripken League cruise past Sunbelt League 13-5 in showcase opener

Date:  Source: Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League

By Matt Cohen 

CARY, N.C. – Jared Lyons played for the first time on a field he’d seen hundreds before.

He’s seen pictures of the USA Baseball National Training Complex before, following USA Baseball on Instagram and Twitter. 

Greeting him at the gate was a sign of all the USA Baseball alumni selected in the first round of the 2019 MLB Draft. As he walked into the facility he saw the banners showcasing the stars that had once played on that same field. Pictures of Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and David Price in their own USA Baseball uniforms were among the famous faces he walked past. 

Now it was Lyons (Aces, George Mason) turn to play on that same field. 

“It’s just like ‘Wow, I getting a chance to play where they’re playing.’ It’s surreal,” Lyons said.

Lyons pitching highlighted a night where the Ripken League showcased its talent in front of MLB scouts, winning 13-5 over the Sunbelt League. 

Gio Diaz (Big Train, St. Mary’s) broke the CRCBL steals record just before the All-Star game where he went on to be named the game’s MVP. Since then Diaz has been one of the emerging hitters in the Ripken League. He had the fastest time in drills before the game with a 4.16 second home-to-first time. 

It was Diaz that drove in the first run of the game, as the Ripken League began to put crooked numbers on the right-field scoreboard. 

Diaz, Christian Jayne (Big Train, East Carolina) and Cade Doughty (Giants, LSU) were one right after the other at the top of the CRCBL’s batting order, and each drove in a run during their respective third inning at bats. Diaz and Doughty each drove in runs with singles while Jayne had a sacrifice ground out as the Ripken League took a 3-0 lead in the third. 

That lead would be more than enough for the CRCBL pitchers. 

Lyons, Michael Betchold (Big Train, James Madison) and Dalton Ponce (Big Train, St. Mary’s) combined to keep shutout the Sunbelt League and hold them to just one hit over the first seven innings. 

Betchold struck out one while not allowing a hit and Ponce struck out three while allowing one hit. 

Lyons was perfect over his two innings. He threw just nineteen pitchers and struck out three. 

“I knew I wanted to throw hard today, and I just let my arm do the work for me,” Lyons said. “I only threw like two or three curveballs and that’s all I needed. I was just able to throw my fastball by guys and if I can do that every time I will.” 

Lyons said he felt the ball coming out his hands well during the game, boosted by the adrenaline of getting to play in front of scouts. 

In fact Lyons has spent his summer quickly gaining the attention of scouts before he stepped on the field in North Carolina. 

Lyons is the Cal Ripken League’s leader in strikeouts with 43, all coming over just 26.1 innings. He has a 2.73 ERA over seven starts. 

It’s success that comes after Lyons struggled during his freshman year at George Mason, finishing with an ERA above 10. 

“In high school I could just throw a fastball down the middle and they wouldn’t hit it, but that didn’t work in college,” Lyons said. “I just couldn’t make that adjustment.” 

Lyons said he wanted to work to throw his breaking balls for strikes this summer, and he’s been able to do just that. He’s also worked to leave his fastball up in the zone and get hitters to chase. Lyons has had success there too, doing it both in the Ripken League and in the showcase in front of scouts. 

Lyons’ offense added two runs in the fourth and two more in the seventh. Scotty Morgan (Aces, George Mason) was involved in both. Morgan reached on an error in the fourth which allowed a run to score. Morgan had the night’s furthest hit ball as he one-hopped the wall in dead center field in the seventh inning which was more than enough to drive in a run, though Morgan would be thrown out trying to stretch it to a triple. 

Kobe Kato (Big Train, Arizona) drove in the eighth run for the Ripken League, singling with the bases loaded in the eighth inning. Kato leads the Ripken League in batting average, and is on pace to break the single season record. 

The Sunbelt League found life in the bottom of the eighth inning. The 10-0 Ripken League lead at the time quickly turned into a 10-5 lead as the Sunbelt League scored five runs on six hits in the bottom of the eighth.

The Ripken League bounced back in the top of the ninth inning as Christian Jayne (Big Train, East Carolina) tripled to right-center to drive in a run, and then Doughty drove him in with a single to center field. The Ripken League added three runs in the top of the ninth to extend the lead to 13-5, the score it would win by. 

The Ripken League will next be in action at 4 p.m. Tuesday back at the USA Baseball facility.