ACA's Warrick earns MVP honors as South wins all-star baseball game

Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association first vice-president Britteny Coleman of Jeff Davis hands out MVP awards to North all-star Davis Gillespie of Oak Mountain, left, and Alabama Christian Academy's Isaac Warrick, right.

The South all-star baseball team rallied for two runs in the bottom of the seventh for a walk-off win in game one and salvaged a 3-3 tie in the nightcap to win the baseball series with their North counterparts in the Alabama All-Star Sports Week baseball game at Riverwalk Stadium.

Trinity’s Ben Easterling and Alabama Christian Academy’s Isaac Warrick helped the South team to the win as each contributed a pair of shutout innings on the mound. Warrick added a triple and a run scored at the plate to grab South Most Valuable Player honors in the event.

“I was definitely not expecting it,” Warrick said. “I feel like I did have a pretty productive day, but this (plaque) in my hands right now, I was just baffled by their selection of me.”

Warrick started in right field and played nearly the whole 14 innings in that position, leaving for only his two-inning stint on the mound in the second game.

“I was listed as just a pitcher, but it just so happened that they only had a couple of outfielders so my hand immediately shot in the air because I’m ready to take any opportunity I can,” Warrick said.

Warrick led off the first game with a flyout to left field off starting pitcher Austin Morris of Mortimer Jordan and returned to the plate in the fourth, striking out on four pitches from Davis Gillespie.

Gillespie, the Oak Mountain pitcher who won North most valuable player honors, had a bases-clearing triple in the second inning to give the North a 5-0 lead and pitched the fourth and fifth innings in the first game, retiring all six batters in order.

Easterling pitched the third and fourth innings, retiring six of the eight batters he faced with the help of three strikeouts. He allowed a single to Helena’s McGwire Turner in the fourth, followed by a walk to Hoover catcher Lucas Steele, but retired the next three batters in order to keep the game at 5-3.

The South entered the final inning trailing 6-3, but Miller Hart drew a walk on four pitches from reliever Alexander Wade, who entered the game moments earlier with the bases loaded. Hart’s walk forced across a run and Trevor Pope followed with an infield single to score another run and bring the South within 6-5.

Easterling then stepped to the plate and Warrick stood on deck, waiting for a chance at last-inning heroics, but Wade uncorked a pair of wild pitches to score Trevor Morris and then Hart with the game-winning run.

“No one wants to come out here and walk,” said Easterling, who was allowed to stay at the plate and draw a walk even after the winning run had scored. “You’re out here to swing the bat so I was really hoping he’d give me something to hit but he didn’t.”

In the second game, Warrick ignited the South all-stars with a leadoff triple, scoring on Charlie Keller’s triple moments later for a quick 1-0 lead.

“That first pitch, that was my money pitch,” Warrick said. “I saw it right down the middle and I just did what I know I can do. I smoked it.”

The North surged ahead 3-1, but Warrick took the mound in the fourth and held the North without a hit for the next two innings, retiring five of the seven batters he faced with strikeouts and another by fielding a grounder and throwing to first to preserve a 3-3 tie after the South rallied with a pair of runs in the fifth.

“It was just like any ‘ole day at the ballpark, I came out here to do one job and that job was to help my team out in the best way possible,” Warrick said. “By being on the mound, I accomplished that.”

The second game was halted at the end of regulation with the score still tied, but the South’s win in the first game pulled them closer in the series, still trailing 25-15 with a pair of ties.

“It’s always exciting to do it for the South team,” Easterling said. “Maybe we can get back and tie the series and eventually go ahead of them.”

In a doubleheader that featured six South pitchers and eight North pitchers, the performances by Easterling, Warrick, Gillespie and Austin Morris were the most effective as a pair of Capital City Conference pitchers held their own with eight 6A-7A pitchers, including Gillespie and Morris.

“It was super cool,” Easterling said. “There were a lot of great players out here, a lot of great competition. It’s always fun to come out here and compete with the best in the state.”