Summer baseball: Middendorf, Kates help South win GLSCL All-Star Game

Ryan Middendorf may not have been 100 percent, but the opportunity was too good to pass up.

The Lakota East High School graduate pitched a scoreless inning on short rest Tuesday night, helping the South defeat the North 3-2 in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League All-Star Game at Prasco Park.

“My arm was a little iffy at first,” admitted Middendorf, who threw 106 pitches for the Hamilton Joes on Saturday. “It was a little sore, but it’s OK. It was definitely fun. You’re always jittery when you get in front of those radar guns, but it’s a cool experience getting to show off in front of those scouts.”

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Middendorf and Lakota West graduate Jake Kates, a member of the Cincinnati Steam, represented Butler County and the Greater Miami Conference in the wood-bat baseball showcase.

Kates was 1-for-3 and played left field for the South. He was robbed of a two-run hit in the seventh inning when Noah Marcoux of the Saginaw Sugar Beets made a diving catch in right field.

“It was awesome being out here,” Kates said. “There were a lot of great players, and Prasco always does a great job with their events. In a game like this, you go out and do your thing and just have fun with it. There’s not really any nerves.

“I met some cool guys that I didn’t know, and hopefully I’ll keep a relationship with those guys moving forward. And it’s always nice to win. If you’re a competitor, you don’t want to lose.”

Second baseman Thomas Zazzaro of the Southern Ohio Copperheads had two hits and one RBI in the winning effort and was the game’s Most Valuable Player.

Johnny Putnam of the Licking County Settlers, the eighth hurler of the night for the South, picked up the win. Caleb Eder of the Xenia Scouts earned the save.

Middendorf pitched the fourth inning, giving up a single and walking one batter. He threw 23 pitches, 13 for strikes.

“It was fun … my parents were there and a bunch of my friends were out in the right-field bleachers,” Middendorf said. “My curveball was working really well. I had that going, so it was a pretty solid inning.”

The Joes had three other players on the South roster. First baseman Griffin Doersching was 1-for-2 with a triple, shortstop Justin McConnell was 0-for-1 with a walk and outfielder Chris Hamilton was 0-for-3.

Middendorf said he won’t forget when the Joes’ All-Stars found out about their selection.

“We were on our bus heading somewhere for a road trip, and they let us know on the bus,” Middendorf said. “The bus was all excited. They were cheering for us. It’s a big honor for this league.”

Middendorf is 4-1 with a 3.92 earned run average for the Joes, who are 15-17 in the GLSCL Southern Division and hoping to make a late push for the playoffs. The division’s best record (23-9) belongs to the Steam.

This spring, Middendorf was 2-2 with two saves and a 5.81 ERA in his second season pitching for Lake Erie College in Painesville.

“I struggled a little bit freshman year, but I worked hard in the summer and made some adjustments and had a pretty good sophomore year,” said Middendorf, who’s majoring in sport management and plans to add a minor in marketing. “I’ll have more opportunities next year to get in the starting rotation, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Kates played for High Point (N.C.) as a freshman this year and was 1-2 with a 3.68 ERA in 22 innings of work. He was also 1-for-10 at the plate.

Now he’s transferring to Gulf Coast State College, a community college in Panama City, Fla., for one year.

“It just wasn’t the place where I wanted to be,” Kates said of High Point. “I felt like it was best for me to move on and better my academic and baseball career.”

He has only pitched 10 innings with a 4.50 ERA this summer with the Steam. Kates has played left field, right field, third base, second base and first base while hitting .336 with 13 extra-base hits and 14 RBIs.

What position(s) will he be playing at Gulf Coast?

“If it was my choice, I would starting pitch and either play left field or first base when I wasn’t startng,” Kates said. “I guess the coaches will decide that. I’m trying to give them all the options I can.”

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