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West dominates East at MHSBCA All-Star Game PHOTO GALLERY/TOUT VIDEO

  • Trenton's Drew Johnson and Roosevelt's Austin Petravicius represented the Downriver area on July 10 at the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association East-West All-Star Game at Comerica Park. Johnson played for the West team, which won 19-7, while Petravicius played for the East squad. Photo gallery by Frank Wladyslawski

Downriver players, coach enjoy all-star experience

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Earlier this season, Roosevelt outfielder Austin Petravicius was unaware that many of the state’s best seniors square off each year in a postseason all-star game.

Fast forward to July 10 and the Davenport University-commit was on the field at Comerica Park as one of two Downriver-area players selected for the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association East-West All-Star Game.

Petravicius was on the East squad, while Trenton outfielder Drew Johnson, who is committed to Marygrove College, played for the West team, which went on to win 19-7.

“It was awesome,” said Petravicius, despite the tough defeat. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I was glad to be a part of it. First, when my coach told me (I was picked), I was really surprised because I didn’t even know there was a game.”

Aside from the Downriver player duo, Anderson Coach Dave Fast also participated and served as a member of the East coaching staff, which was headed up by Notre Dame Prep’s Darren Audia.

”It was fun, they’re good baseball players and they’re good guys too,” Fast said of the all-star squad. “Spending a few days with the kids and coaches was a great time. It didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to, but we enjoyed it.”

2014 marked Fast's last season with Anderson, as he has taken over the athletic director position at Woodhaven.

At the plate, Johnson was 1-for-4, along with a stolen base and a run scored, while Petravicius was 1-for-2 with an RBI. Also, both players saw significant time in center field for their respective clubs.

Johnson’s hit came against standout pitcher Dazon Cole (West Bloomfield), who was recently drafted by the Atlanta Braves.

“I told all my teammates and my coaches that I’d do the best I could and I thought I came out and gave it my all,” Johnson said. “It’ll be forever in my memory, absolutely.”

The East grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning after an RBI single by Daniel Jipping (Plymouth Christian), but the West scored five runs in the second, highlighted by a 2-run single from Tyler Kyro (Jackson).

Another run was added by the West in the third, but two innings later the East cut into the lead after Aiden Cullen (NDP) blasted a 2-run homer to right field to make it a 6-3 game.

Soon after, the West went back up by five again with two runs in the bottom of the sixth, but Petravicius’ RBI single in the seventh and a run in the eighth made it only 8-5.

To put the game out of reach, however, West hitters bombarded their opponent with five more runs in the bottom of the eighth, highlighted by Phil Carey’s (Tecumseh) 3-run double.

Jipping drove in two more runs in the top of the ninth, but that was all the East could manage and the West clinched the victory.

Although the game was decided, the bottom of the ninth is still played in the all-star game, and it resulted in six more West runs, once of which was scored by Johnson after he reached base, and the game ended with a 19-7 final.


Before the all-star game got started, one local coach was honored for his efforts this season.

Trenton’s Gary Szalka was acknowledged by the MHSBCA during a brief on-field ceremony as an Assistant Coach of the Year for 2014.

This past season the Trojans won a school-record 34 games, finished as Downriver League co-champs and had a successful postseason run that featured both a district and regional title in Division 2.

Gary Szalka, who is the father of the team’s head coach Todd Szalka, had a long and distinguished career as the head coach at Melvindale before serving as an assistant at Trenton.

In his 37 years as the Cardinals’ head man, he won 648 games, nine league championships and 10 district titles.

He had a team ranked in the state’s top 10 18 different times, 12 of his players made all-state teams and he was named Regional Coach of the Year in 1989.

Last season, Melvindale honored the elder Szalka by naming the school’s baseball field after him.

Also, he’s a member of the MHSBCA Hall of Fame and has been inducted into the Lincoln Park and Melvindale Sports Halls of Fame.

Last Updated: 7/11/2014 9:20:39 AM EST