SUWANEE — Though the high school baseball season officially came to an end with the state championship series nearly two weeks ago, a group of underclassmen each from Gwinnett and Cobb counties will take the field one last time to square off in the Fourth Annual Cobb-Gwinnett All-Star Game.
The game, which will take place Tuesday night at 7 at Hillgrove High School in Powder Springs, is part of a series of events that also includes an awards dinner Sunday night at TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth.
It will also mark the latest postseason clash between two of the largest hotbeds for baseball talent in Georgia, and perhaps the nation, as well as a bit of a rivalry between them.
“It’s an honor to be here. It’s exciting. It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Mountain View junior shortstop/right-handed pitcher Garrett Spikes, who will play for Team Gwinnett, said during a team practice last week at North Gwinnett’s McDaniel Field. “Gwinnett and Cobb have always been two of the most competitive counties in the country baseball-wise.”
Gwinnett’s latest group of underclassmen All-Stars that will represent the county in the game includes something of a youth movement.
While the vast majority of Team Gwinnett’s 26-player roster are juniors, nearly one-third of the roster will be freshman, like Wesleyan’s Druw Jones and Buford’s duo of Dylan Lesko and Riley Stanford, and sophomores, such as South Gwinnett twins Andrew and Andreaus Lewis, Mountain View’s Kenny Mallory, Norcross Daniel Haab and Peachtree Ridge’s Adam Jones.
It only accentuates the point that while the present of Gwinnett County is strong in terms of the talent level, the future is equally as bright.
“It just shows you how competitive it is … in Gwinnett County,” said Spikes, who hit .330 with five home runs and 33 RBIs at the plate and went 2-2 with a 0.81 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 26 innings on the mound for Mountain View this spring.
In addition to county pride, the game will represent different things for many of the players on Team Gwinnett.
For some like Duluth’s Jose Jennings, it represents a chance to get back on the field for the first time since his high school season came to an end nearly a month ago.
“I don’t really play travel (ball),” said the junior right-handed pitcher, who went 3-2 with one save, a 3.17 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 42 innings for the Wildcats this season. “So yes, (there might be some rust) pitching-wise, especially against this competition. (Hitting) will probably the same as the high school season.”
For others like Spikes and Archer’s Trey Messer, it is a chance to stay in a competitive environment while getting a bit of a fun break from the grind of offseason work in multiple sports.
In Messer’s case, it comes in between the grind of spring football practice and a summer that will include participating in football camps and a limited summer baseball schedule.
“I’ve definitely been involved in football for a while,” the junior outfielder said. “It’s good to get out here and have some fun. (Archer) Coach (Danny) Daigle has always been involved (with me) even through spring practice. He told me to get prepared for this event.”