For an East Team that consisted of so many great hitters in 2007 like Tim Beckham and Eric Hosmer, this 2008 East squad didn’t show much of anything at the plate for most of the game. The West pitchers combined to hold the East to 1 hit over 8 innings. Jacob Turner (St. Charles, MO) set the tempo by striking out 4 East batters over the first 2 innings, but a 9th inning rally by the East gave them the victory.
The West squad put a run on the board in the bottom of the first with a single by Slade Heathcott (Texarkana, TX), scoring David Nick (Cypress, CA) who had reached base on a passed third strike earlier in the inning. The West got on the board again in the 4th with the help of the Southern California combination of Max Stassi and Matt Davidson. Stassi (UCLA verbal, Yuba City, CA) doubled past a diving Donavan Tate (Cartersville, GA) in center, and then scored on a double by Davidson (USC verbal, Yucaipa, CA). Davidson won the Home Run Derby earlier in the day.
The East looked to capitalize in the top of the 7th after RHP Scott Griggs (UCLA verbal, Alamo, CA) got himself into trouble by giving up consecutive 2-out walks. It wasn’t to be though as Brian Goodwin (Rocky Mount, N.C) flew out to left to end the short lived threat.
Slade Heathcott, who drove in the first run of the game for the West, came in to get the save in the top of the 9th. Donavan Tate was able to reach on an error, then with one out Michael Zunino (UF Verbal, Cape Coral, Fla) reached on an infield single to third that advanced Tate to second. After a Drew Steckenrider (Lawrenceville, Ga) flyout, Richie Shaffer (Clemson verbal, Charlotte, NC) walked, bringing up Brian Goodwin to try and make something happen for the East with the bases loaded. After Donavan Tate scored on a wild pitch by Heathcott, Goodwin hit in 2 RBI on a single through the infield, making the game 3-2. Donavan advanced to second on the throw to home.
Heathcott continued to unravel for the West. After a Goodwin steal of third and a Keyvius Sampson (Ocala, Fla.) walk, Heathcott overthrew his first baseman on a pickoff throw, which allowed Goodwin to score. Heathcott was able to get out of the inning, but the damage was already done as the East Squad was able to put 4 on the board in the top of the 9th.
This 9th inning implosion gave Austin Maddox (Florida verbal, Jacksonville, Fla.), the starting catcher for the East, the opportunity for the win as he was brought in with 2 outs in the 8th. The East coaching staff had made the decision to put Maddox in the ball game because it looked at the time like they wouldn’t be taking the field in the 9th. Maddox took full advantage of the opportunity, striking out Heathcott and Susac to start the inning, and getting Matt Davidson to flyout to left to end the game.
MVP: Brian Goodwin
Ozzie Smith was the Honorary Chairman of the game for the 2nd straight year. Cal Ripken, Jr. is the only other 2-time Honorary Chairman of the Aflac All-American Game.
During breaks in the game, there were clips of each team partaking in different events around Southern California, like going to Universal Studios as well as visiting children at City of Hope and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. Proceeds from this game are going to ThinkCure!, the official charity of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Since 2005, the game has generated nearly $525,000 for charity.