CONYERS - Tyler Austin has always been in select company on the baseball field in the state of Georgia. Now, Austin can make that claim on a national level.
The Heritage rising senior was recently named one of eight Peach State players participating in the seventh annual AFLAC All-American High School Baseball Classic in San Diego from Aug. 12 to 16.
Austin, a catcher with the ability to play any of the other eight positions, should be one of the most sought-after prospects headed to San Diego's Petco Park for the Aug. 16 game, televised live at 8 p.m. on Fox Sports Net. Austin is joined on the team by Zach Alvord (South Forsyth High School), Kaleb Coward (Cook), ML King's Trey Griffin, Cam Bedrosian of East Coweta, Chevez Clarke (Marietta), Brandon Stephens (Lassiter) and Tattnall Academy's DeAndre Smelter.
Heritage coach Casey Teal said Austin's performance at the Perfect Game National Showcase in Minnesota from June 12 to 15 had a lot to do with his inclusion in the AFLAC game.
"He did well in Minnesota. He had a good showing out there," Teal said. "I guess one of the big things, the Home Run Derby, he hit seven in a row at one point. That really got everybody's attention."
AFLAC, in its fight to help end childhood cancer, has raised nearly $685,000 during the event's seven years, donating to a different hospital each year. This season's proceeds benefit Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego. The players will participate in hospital visits as well as scrimmages and a home run derby during the five-day event.
Conyers' state rotation up in the air
As Conyers Post 77 prepares for the American Legion state tournament July 23, the pitching rotation is still undecided.
Right-hander Anthony Bazzani appears to have the inside track on starting the opening round game, with either Kelvan Diaz or long shot Brandon Thomas to follow. But Post 77 coach Eddie Bagwell said the potential opponent, and a pitcher's ability to come back and pitch a second time in the four-day tournament, will factor into who gets the starting assignments.
"Bazzani recovers quicker; you get one shot at Kelvan," Bagwell said of the potential for only Bazzani to pitch twice. "That's our thinking right now - Bazzani probably, Game 1."
Rockdale to give plenty of play time in finale
Rockdale Post 77 coach Jack Murphy said he will play a number of people in the doubleheader Sunday against Conyers.
Perhaps the most important innings to be pitched Sunday at Henson-Carr will come from new closer Cameron Griffin, who struck out six but allowed a solo home run in his first relief appearance of the season Monday against Gainesville. Griffin had been out the entire summer following hand surgery, but Conyers had left him active on the roster in the hopes he could return before the state tournament.
"We put (Griffin) on the roster and had been carrying (him) to hope to have him ready to go this season," Murphy said. "We think there may be a situation where we can use him for two, three innings."
Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.