Seaboard may be last in the Ban Johnson League standings, but nobody shined brighter July 9 during the 50th Ban Johnson All-Star Game than Maurice Bruce Jr.
Bruce (Raytown/Missouri Western), an outfielder for Seaboard and one of two all-stars from the squad, got the B All-Stars rolling with a two-out, third-inning blast into the left-field bullpen at Kauffman Stadium.
“That felt awesome,” said Bruce, who was chosen as the MVP after going 2 for 3 with two runs scored and two RBIs. “That wasn’t my goal, but I just tried to stay loose, not do too much and let my ability take over. You dream about a moment like that. It’s a blast playing out here on a major-league field. It’s something not everyone gets to do.”
Bruce wasn’t done.
He later added an RBI double and scored during a five-run fifth inning as the B All-Stars blew open the game on the way to a 10-1 rout against the J All-Stars.
“I’m not sure he knew he hit a home run at first,” BJ Raiders designated hitter Tyler Cox said. “He was running almost full speed to third, so it was kind of funny. But I was excited for him.”
The whole dugout was.
“Once he hit that home run, everybody was like, ‘If he can do it, we all can do it,’ so it really got the ball rolling,” MSBL Royals first baseman Cody Lampe said.
Lampe (Fort Zumwalt East/William Jewell) and Cox (Blue Valley West/East Tennessee State) helped the B All-Stars pile on from there after getting over some initial butterflies.
“I actually swung at two pitches above my neck that first at-bat, so I was pretty nervous,” Lampe said. “After that, I think I settled in pretty well. Just walking in and seeing the stadium and getting to be on the field, it’s a blessing. … It was cool. It was really cool.”
Lampe would finish 2 for 3 with two RBIs and a run scored, cracking a fourth-inning RBI double and adding an RBI triple an inning later. Both times, he drove in Cox — the reigning Ban Johnson League Lester Milgram MVP, who also went 2 for 3 with an RBI.
Cox was playing in his third Ban Johnson League All-Star Game, but he said the thrill never gets old.
“It doesn’t — this is a beautiful park,” Cox said. “I love it. Playing with everyone, it’s always a good experience.”
The decisive fourth inning started with a home run by Edelman & Thompson catcher Nick Gavin (Lee’s Summit North/William Jewell) to left field.
Later, Bruce doubled, Cox singled and Lampe tripled — each driving in a run — before Edelman & Thompson third baseman Garrett McNally (Bishop Miege/Rockhurst University) capped the outburst with an RBI single for a 7-0 lead.
The B All-Stars tacked on two more runs in the sixth on RBI singles from MSBL Royals outfielder Chase Redick (Shawnee Mission North/William Jewell) and BJ Raiders shortstop Joe Costanzo (Rockhurst High/Rockhurst University).
Costanzo was one of four B All-Star with two hits on the evening.
The lead peaked at 10-0 with BJ Raiders catcher Hunter Kellgren’s (Liberty North/Newman) eighth-inning RBI single.
Edelman & Thompson’s Jackson Longhofer (St. Thomas Aquinas/Park), Zach Ours (Lee’s Summit North/Arkansas-Little Rock) and Chris Bolte (Park Hill/Park), MSBL Royals’ Hunter Paxton (Mill Valley/KCK CC) and McNally and BJ Raiders’ Logan Steenstra (Liberty/Cowley CC), Ryan Hagen (Park Hill South/Cowley CC) and Bret Snider (Liberty North/KCK CC) each pitched a scoreless frame as the B All-Stars kept the J All-Stars off the scoreboard for the first eight innings.
Milgram Mustangs catcher Isaiah Pani (Fulton/Central Missouri) scored on a ninth-inning error as the J All-Stars avoided being shut out.