It was a wild ride this summer for the Fresno A’s Upperclassmen Team. They got off to a great start, going 13-6 against top-notch competition at 2 Pathway events in Utah, 1 Five Tool event in Colorado, and 1 Wood Bat Summer Series in Arizona. The team had some huge wins, including an extra-inning win over Meta Prime, a game-winning grand slam against the Colorado Yard Dawgs in an elimination game, and a come-from-behind win in the final inning against the reigning Colorado state champion Regis Jesuit Raiders. These teams and events were stacked with talent, and every game was tremendously exciting.
After this hot stretch the team hit a bump in the road in mid-August and went on a 4-game losing streak. However, they did not sink in their sorrows and turned things around going .500 in Pathway’s Fall Classic against outstanding competition, and finishing by winning their pool at the Five Tool Arizona with a record of 3-0-1 while beating some outstanding teams such as the Tucson Badgers and MAC Elite. The Fresno A’s tied CBA Stockton-Tracy who featured an outstanding starting pitcher featuring velocity that reached 89 MPH. Seeing velocity like that was not uncommon during the summer, and the A’s saw it in every single event at least once.
Key moments of the summer:
The Fresno A’s defeated Meta Prime 12-11 in extra-innings.
Daniel Gray pitched 5+ innings while only surrendering 2 earned runs, while Elijah Torres-Cordova cut down 2 runners on the base paths. Orin Hirschkorn hit a monster 3-run homerun and Dean McCurley had the game-winning hit in extra-innings. Tyler Kiggens would record the save.
The Fresno A’s defeated Colorado Prime 5-4.
Braden Hobbs entered the game up 5-4 with no outs and the bases loaded, and recorded the save as the A’s won 5-4. Bobby Staley made a diving catch and doubled up the runner at second base in the last inning to preserve the 5-4 lead. Aviram Ramirez made a huge diving stop before throwing out the runner at first while sitting on his wallet in shallow right field for the last out of the game.
The Fresno A’s defeat reigning state champions Regis Jesuit 6-3
Dean McCurley pitched 5.1 innings and gave up only 1 earned run while striking out 5. McCurley also homered in the game. The Fresno A’s trailed 3-1 in the 6th inning, at which point Zack Curtis hit a solo homerun to cut the deficit to just one run. Eli Campos tied the game with a clutch RBI single in the 6th, knocking the Red Raiders starting pitcher out of the game. Aviram Ramirez would hit a bases clearing double to take the lead in the top of the 7th. Curtis also got the win on the mound as he pitched the last 1.1 innings.
The Fresno A’s defeat the Colorado Yard Dawgs 6-4 to clinch a spot in the semifinals
Orin Hirschkorn hit a game-winning grand slam down the right field line to win what was without a doubt the most heated contest of the season. Both teams were playing for a spot in the next round, and early in the game the coaching staffs both got into it with the umpire over a tournament rule. While both sides befriended each other after the game, this was an edgy and exciting game to be a part of. The Yard Dawgs pitcher was dominant until the 6th inning. He sat in the mid-to-high 80’s while commanding 3 pitches well. Curtis would once again be the late-game hero on the mound while recording the save and pitching 1.2 innings with 3 strikeouts. Hobbs was the winning pitcher, throwing 5.1 innings and allowing 4 earned runs, while striking out 6.
Fresno A’s win their bracket in the Five Tool Arizona event in Tucson
The tournament was kicked off with a tie against a talented CBA Stockton-Tracy team. Dean McCurley turned in a stellar performance on the mound, going 5 innings, while only allowing 2 runs and striking out 7. Dean topped at 88 MPH in this game. In a win against Nor Cal Dream Athletics in game 2, Caleb Geisler pitched 6 innings while giving up 0 earned runs and striking out 7. Bobby Staley gunned down a runner at the plate.
In game 3, the Fresno A’s beat the Tucson Badgers 5-4. The Badgers were one of the best teams the A’s faced all year. They were filled with D1 commits and signees, and carried about a 25-man roster. Aaron McCurley got the win on the mound after giving up no earned runs in his relief appearance, and Cameron Reeve recorded the save, stranding the tying and go-ahead runs on base. The hit of the day was Orin Hirschkorn’s moonshot homerun. The ball went well over 400 feet, and cleared a fence that was 375 feet from home plate and 50 feet tall. That is no exaggeration at all.
The Fresno A’s would also defeat another formidable opponent in MAC Elite, which would solidify them as bracket champions. Aaron McCurley went 4.2 innings of 1-run ball to earn the win. Bobby Staley and Caleb Geisler also hit homeruns in the tournament.
Offensive Player of the Year: Orin Hirschkorn
Hirschkorn hit six homeruns throughout the year in a total of 35 games, he also had 5 triples. His 6.6 sixty speed along made him a threat to both leave the yard, and steal second base at any given moment. Orin got on base at over a .450 clip, and led the team in doubles, triples, and homeruns. Some of these homeruns were game changers, such as his game-winning grand slam against the Colorado Yard Dawgs, or his monster homerun against the Tucson Badgers to give the team a boost that lifted them to eventually win the pool. Hirschkorn’s improved outstanding speed, arm, and outfield routes also had him in the gold glove discussions. Orin Hirschkorn recently signed to Saint Mary’s College, and will look to continue his tear when he arrives on campus next fall.
Honorable Mention: Cameron DeMaria
DeMaria’s numbers may not jump off of the page at you right away, but when you take a deeper look, he had a fantastic year. He hit over .300, but also had an OBP over .500. He acted as outstanding protection for Hirschkorn, and was top 3 on the team in doubles, Runs, and RBIs. DeMaria also hit 1 homerun that pulled the Fresno A’s within 1 run late in the game against the Texas Stars. DeMaria also led the team in walks and hit by pitches. DeMaria recently signed to the University of Minnesota Crookston, where he looks to contribute right away.
Pitcher of the Year: Dean McCurley
Dean McCurley ran away with this award. The Fresno A’s had the luxury of having several good pitchers to turn to, especially throughout the summer. However, McCurley finished with an ERA under 3, the most strikeouts on the team, and several dominant performances against outstanding teams. McCurley’s dominant pitching performances were the key to Fresno A’s victories against Colorado Prime (elimination game) and Regis Jesuit. He also had an outstanding performance against CBA Stockton-Tracy, in which he topped out at 88 MPH and turned in a quality start that led to a tie, which in the end helped to secure the Fresno A’s as pool winners.
Honorable Mention: Zack Curtis
Curtis turned in multiple clutch appearances throughout the year. He earned 2 saves and 2 wins during the short summer season. He came in and shut the door against both Regis Jesuit and the Colorado Yard Dawgs on back-to-back days. Those appearances helped push the Fresno A’s through to the semifinals as pool winners. He also had quality appearances in several other elimination games. He was simply clutch the entire summer. Curtis utilized increased fastball velocity that improved from adjustments made throughout the summer to average more than a strikeout per inning.
Gold Gloves: Jayden Garcia and Tyler Kiggens
Garcia played all around the infield, but really found a home at 3rd base mid-way through the summer. He was outstanding at the hot corner. He made countless great plays and when all said and done, featured at least 6 defensive runs saved (due to lack of statistics from the Game Changer app, we cannot 100% certify that statistic). He locked down the position and that was vital to the success of the team.
Kiggens was solid at catcher all summer. He was tough and caught several double headers. His blocking and athleticism behind the plate improved as the year went on, and his catching abilities and arm strength kept the A’s in several key games. The icing on the cake that handed him this award, was his outstanding effort in Arizona, in which he caught every inning of every game at the Fall Classic.