The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Clinton

August 3, 2012

All-stars invade Clinton

CLINTON — Many of the top baseball players in the state of Iowa descended on Clinton for a four-day tournament.

The 36th Annual Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Series showcases 64 of the best senior baseball players in the state.

“It’s a nice culmination at the end of their careers,” said Dave Rock, the Series chairman and Calamus-Wheatland baseball coach. “They can get together with a lot of the kids they competed against over the years and be on the same team as them.”

The four teams — Small School East, Large East, Small West and Large West — play a round-robin at Ashford University Field with a third-place and championship game set for Sunday.

The tournament opened Thursday and the small school’s showed off their pitching.

Calvin Mathews, of Bloomfield Davis County, struck out 10 and pitched Small East to a 7-1 win over Large East in the tournament opener. Not to be out-done, Brennan Manfull, of Ballard, took a no-hitter into the fourth inning and led Small West to a 4-1 victory over Large West.

The two small schools square off tonight at 5 p.m., with the large schools following. Weekend games are set for 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. each day.

The games are clearly competitive, but the tournament is also about having fun and celebrating high school baseball.

“A lot of these guys are going to be playing college baseball with and against guys they’re seeing here,” Rock said. “They’ve got a common bond with these guys forever. They’re rooming with each other and hanging out. Memories and friendships are a big thing for us.”

Clinton, and the LumberKings, hosted the 30th Series in 2006 and stepped up to the plate again for this year’s Series. Not only is this a good tournament, but it’s also a boon for the city.

“Any time you can bring people in and you fill hotel rooms and you have them buy gas and groceries here and they stop and buy clothes, or whatever, it’s a plus,” LumberKings general manager Ted Tornow said. “Being on the Chamber board for many years, it’s the dollars turning over for (Clinton). ... When you boil it down, any time you can bring somebody into town to spend money and us have the tournament here, that’s what we’re going to do.

“Is it a public service of sorts? Yeah. They’re fans, they’re guests. Any time we can them into the ballpark and the city limits, that’s what we’re going to do. I think it’s great for our community.”

Tornow did say the LumberKings are getting the profit from the concessions, so it’s not entirely selfless.

Not every city was interested in hosting the All-Star Series, though.

“They tried to get it in Davenport and they won’t work with us,” Rock said. “Ted trips over himself to help us out. It was supposed to be in Davenport, but they couldn’t get it done. They called me and asked if we could get it in Clinton. I called Ted and he said yes. That’s how it all happened. That was about two years ago.”

Tornow said: “They asked and for us it was a no-brainer.”

Rock said Clinton and the area responded very positively to the tournament.

“When we were looking for ads and sponsorships for our program, the community responded,” he said. “The city just wraps around this. This is a baseball town.”

And for five dollars a session, people can see some of the top high school baseball talent.

“If you’re a baseball fan and you like youth sports, this is it,” Tornow said.

Tornow said he thought it was probably a treat for a lot of the high school seniors to get to play in a Minor League stadium.

“I’m assuming it would be a thrill,” he said. “I remember when I was that age and I played American Legion ball. I got the chance to play at County Stadium in Milwaukee. That was absolutely unbelievable. It’s not to the same extent, but I think it would be a thrill. ... This might be it for some of these kids and what a great way to end it.”

It was a thrill for the small schools on opening night as each beat its larger counterpart.

In the opener, Large East struck first with a solo home run by Ryan Lehmann of Western Dubuque to lead off the top of the second. Mathews only allowed one runner to reach scoring position after that.

Small East came right back with five runs in the bottom of the second off North Scott’s Colby Sorensen. Craig Konrardy drew a one-out walk, which Nate Steger followed with a single. Jake Stenberg and Kyle Whitman hit back-to-back RBI singles to take the lead. An error, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly later, Small East led 5-1 and had complete control of the game.

In the second game, Small West scored two runs in the top of the first and that was all the support Manfull needed.

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