Class 1A-3A Baseball All-Star Game part of fun couple of nights at Kino Stadium

The game was over at Wednesday night’s Class 1A-3A All-Star Game at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium but the usually ubiquitous organizer Bill Leith of the Kino Baseball League was nowhere in sight.

That’s because he was hauling tables and chairs to the nearby auxiliary fields at the Kino Sports Complex for the Sun Belt College League that starts Thursday with close to 150 college-age players participating.

“I’ll get some sleep,” Leith said as he walked off with a folding table toward the fields at about 10 p.m.

Leith’s annual venture with the all-star games as leader of his non-profit organization was affected by COVID-19 last year with a cancellation, and also this year because attracting attention for the games was more difficult than he thought.

“The year away may have made some (athletic directors and coaches) not remember what we had going,” Leith said. “We’ll have a better year next year.”

The Class 1A-3A All-Star Game featured 24 players in what turned out to be a competitive game (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Kino Copper beat Kino Teal 11-7 in the Class 1A-3A game, but the score carried the same weight as a Harlem Globetrotters outcome.

What mattered was a competitive game with family and friends in attendance, including Tuesday’s nail-biter in the 4A-6A game won by Kino Teal 4-3 in nine innings.

Only 12 players were on each roster of the Class 1A-3A All-Star Game and 18 of the 24 were from 3A state champion Sabino and winning programs at 3A Empire and 2A St. Augustine.

Leith does not pick the all-star rosters. He devotes a great deal of time e-mailing athletic directors and coaches with the hope they respond with the names of seniors who are able to participate.

Bill Leith is the tireless director of the Kino Baseball League, a non-profit organization whose aim is to provide local youths the opportunity to play baseball (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

The players who showed up Wednesday provided a glimpse of talent locally with some good storylines.

Bragging rights were on the line for the Sabino, Empire and St. Augustine players facing each other.

That included two of Sabino’s top pitchers — Tyler Welsh and Jake Wiltshire — starting against each other.

“We intrasquad quite a bit in practice, so I’m kind of used to it. It’s fun” said Welsh, who got things going for Kino Copper in the first inning with a two-run triple. “You can smile and laugh a little bit but then you get serious and play baseball.

“It’s cool.”

A rarity: Wiltshire, a speedster headed for New Mexico State, scored on a wild pitch in the seventh for Kino Teal all the way from first base because the catcher at first lost track of the ball and then had trouble retrieving it from the backstop padding.

Nathan Ortiz, another Sabercat, hit a two-run single as part of Kino Teal’s six-run fifth inning that made the score interesting after Kino Copper took an 11-0 lead after the first three innings. Ortiz also quelled a base-loaded rally in the sixth by striking out the last two batters.

Empire’s Nate Richey followed getting a couple of players to strike out with a two-run double in the fifth that got Team Teal on the board, trailing 11-2 at that point.

St. Augustine’s Justin Reynolds, Luke Savel and Dominic Acosta accounted for nine of the 11 runs scored for Kino Teal going 3 for 6 with three walks, five runs and four RBIs. Savel pitched the final 2 1/3 innings, giving up one hit and one unearned run.

How special is this game for these seniors? Noah Bevins of Safford indicated this may have been his last organized baseball game, depending on whether Eastern Arizona College will accept him as a walk-on next season. He drove two hours to Tucson with his mom and headed back right after, likely getting home by 1 a.m.

“It’s a different atmosphere; coming from a small town, it’s an eye-opener,” Bevins said. “It’s a good time to get out of a little town and just come up here and play ball.”

Leith promised a return of the all-star games next year at Kino but with a different format.

“We’ll have all the classifications together and probably make it two games,” he said. “It should work out pretty well. Looking forward to it.”


Kino Copper

Team Copper of the Class 1A-3A All-Star Game earned the victory (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Manager: Martin Pereyda (Old Pueblo Kings of the Sun Belt College League)

Coaches: Richard Delahanty (Old Pueblo Kings), David Oropeza (Old Pueblo Kings) and Mike Odum (Catalina Aztecs).

Brendan Dobbin, Empire

Shand Rodriguez, Empire

Cameron Warren, Empire

Justin Nichols, Sabino

Tyler Welsh, Sabino

Noah Bevins, Safford

Dominic Acosta, St. Augustine

Andrew Marcinko, St. Augustine

Justin Reynolds, St. Augustine

Luke Savel, St. Augustine

Zeke Esparza , Tombstone

Levi Lawson, Valley Union

Kino Teal

Team Teal made a good rally at the end (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Manager: Josue Ortiz (Santa Rita Warthogs of the Sun Belt College League)

Coaches: Adam Federico and Adam Ibarra (Santa Rita Warthogs)

Mason Fletcher, Benson

Robert Lopez, Benson

Mike Newsome, Empire

Nate Richey, Empire

Michael Buchmann, Sabino

Nathan Ortiz, Sabino

Joey Parker, Sabino

Jacob Wiltshire, Sabino

Darren Juarez, St. Augustine

Frankie Martinez, St. Augustine

A.J. Valencia, St. Augustine

Hayden Palmer, Pusch Ridge


ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District

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