By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
Nearly a dozen local seniors shined in the Tyler Skaggs Foundation All-Star game at Jackie Robinson field on Saturday.
The foundation strives to keep youth in sports by providing grants and opportunities to those in need. Saturday’s event at the home of UCLA baseball in Santa Monica raised more than $5,500 with all proceeds going toward academic scholarships for the athletes.
Celebrity coaches were brought in to coach the Red and Blue team All-Stars, and the Red team prevailed 4-1.
The winning Red coaches were longtime major leaguer Trevor Plouffe and former National League MVP Ryan Braun.
“These guys were bigger, stronger and faster than I felt like we were in high school,” said Braun. “It’s amazing to see so many good athletes on one field and so many guys come together to support what they know is a good cause.”
The SCV’s participants on the Red team were Scotty Pieper and Tyler Biggs of Valencia, Ryan Egan of Hart, Jake Schwartz of West Ranch, and Connor Bates of Saugus.
Local members of the Blue team were Logan Mandel and Michael Taylor of West Ranch, Jose Mariano of Valencia, Mo Edwards of Golden Valley, and Trevor Lemmond and Colin Yeaman of Saugus.
The Blue team was coached by World Series champion Tim Leary and former New York Met Jason Felice.
The pitching shined on the Red team, starting off with a great start from Bates. The Centurion walked his first batter but locked in quickly. The Cumberland University commit struck out his next three opponents in his one inning of work.
Biggs would enter in relief and pitch a strong two innings for the Red team. The Viking stranded two base runners in each of his innings of work. Biggs got the better of one his Foothill League counterparts after fanning Yeaman.
Pieper scored the first run of the game in the third. The Red team forced Vista Murrieta’s Nathan Lee into a three-on, one-out jam in the next inning. A wild pitch would score one more Red run to go up 2-0.
Yeaman would redeem himself later, on an RBI walk with the bases loaded to score the Blue team’s only run.
Taylor would enter in the fifth and got into his own loaded-bases jam. The Wildcat escaped unscathed and returned to pitch the sixth. Taylor then got the satisfaction of striking out his teammate Schwartz to lead off the inning.
“It felt good to strike out one of my old teammates,” said Taylor. “It was fun to face people I’ve faced in the valley. I had no idea I was going to face him, but I’m glad I got to.”
Pieper, committed to Ohlone College, clinched the win for the Red team in the top of the seventh with a sensational catch near the wall in center field.
“Last play of the game, I got my chance,” said Pieper. “Fly ball straight over my head, off the bat I knew that I could get there and with full extension was able to find the glove and make the play.”
Three scholarships were given out to aid the All-Stars in their future academic careers. Justin Roulston of Culver City, Angelo Aleman of Maranatha and Etiwanda’s Armando Briseno were all given $1,000 scholarships after the game.
Easton Rulli of Thousand Oaks was then awarded with the All-Star Game MVP award.
Even in a charity game, the nerves were high and the competition was tough, as every single player was fighting to win.
“It was kind of nerve-wracking,” said Taylor, “being around these really good players. But it ended up working out.”
The Foothill League stars got to shine on the field one last time on a premier college baseball field before they head off to their own collegiate fields. The SCV players all brought plenty to the table, again showcasing the Foothill League as one of the toughest leagues in Southern California.
The Tyler Skaggs Foundation also hosted an incoming junior and senior All-Star game, which also featured several Foothill League standouts.
“All the Santa Clarita guys showed out today,” said Braun. “Scotty’s catch to end the game was incredible. Those guys definitely showed well for themselves and helped to carry our team to victory.”
The Tyler Skaggs Foundation, founded in memory of the L.A. Angels pitcher who died in 2019, aims to keep kids in sports for more than just a healthy lifestyle.
“Our mission is to provide equitable access to sports programs and recreation that will help young people build both athletic and essential life skills,” said Director of Communications Krista Barry. “Due to the increasing support of our generous donors and community, we are able to offer TSF Grants for local athletes and athletic programs, supply athletic equipment, and help fundraise for both individual athletes and organizations in need.”
The foundation recently founded a baseball club for the Barack Obama Charter school in Compton, called the Sparks. The club is named after Skaggs’ saying, ‘Bring the spark.’
The foundation and its volunteers were able to renovate their baseball field, donate a tractor, provide uniforms, provide athletic equipment, and were able to successfully launch their very first baseball program.
TSF also supports local community initiatives and hosts an annual Thanksgiving food drive and a subsequent holiday toy drive.
“We all had an opportunity to get to know Tyler [Skaggs] really well,” said Braun. “He was such an incredible human. Always wanted to do his part and give back to the community. It’s such a special way to be able to do it, just to inspire kids through sports. So for all of us to have an opportunity to honor his legacy and help raise money for a good cause is meaningful to all of us, and I feel grateful that I was able to be a part of it.”
The foundation continues to grow and expand its reach, leading to the organization aiming to do the same with its All-Star game.
“This is actually the only All-Star Game on this side of town,” said Barry. “We look forward to making it bigger and bigger each year, showcasing top athletes, introducing them to other players, and getting them in front of collegiate coaches and scouts. When it comes down to it, it’s really all about the kids. Tyler loved giving back to the community, and we feel proud to be doing all of this in his honor.”