East County Sports

Ritayik is youngest starter for Stars



Special to EastCountySports.com 


SANTEE (6-6-2018) – The San Diego Stars possess an array of talent at catcher this summer season, including several collegians and one Independent Baseball professional making an attempt to return to the play-for-pay ranks.

However, when none of them were available on the dawn of Tuesday’s (June 5) Western Baseball Association opener, Stars owner/manager Mickey Deutschman was left in a quandary.

With apologies to the producers of “Ghostbusters,” the question was poised upon Mickey D.: “Who ya gonna call?”

Instead of a call across the country seeking a talented prospect, Deutschman needed only to make a call to the other side of the front office to the Chief Operating Officer of the Stars to contact her son. The move paid off handsomely.

ANDREW RITAYIK, who just completed a sub-par sophomore season for West Hills High, proved up to the task. Ritayik, 16, in becoming the youngster player to start in the 38-year history of the Stars, made his debut behind the plate memorable, driving in three runs including the go-ahead marker in the sixth inning to lead the Star to a 12-9 triumph over the long-time rival San Diego Mavericks.

“It was simple. Andrew was put into the position of playing up to the talent around him,” Deutschman explained in escaping his dilemma. “There were certain expectations in his performance, so he went out there and did it.”

Ritayik finished with a 3-for-5 outing at the plate, including an RBI single in the second inning by going to the opposite field for a single. He later added a sacrifice bunt which turned into an infield single when the Mavs were slow in fielding the ball in the fourth. It was the lone base hit in a 3-run rally which saw the ball never leave the infield due to two of the Mavs’ five errors.

Two innings later, with the score knotted at 6-all, the 6-foot-3 Ritayik turned on an inside pitch and drilled a ball through the left-side of the infield. Joey Krug and Ty Andrews both scored for an 8-6 advantage.

In the seventh, Stars veteran right fielder DALLAS SEIDEL bombed a 2-run homer – his second on the day and third over three days – to straight-away center field for an 11-7 advantage. He also belted a solo shot to right in the third to tie the contest and offset an early 3-0 Mavericks lead.

Seidel finished with three RBI, making a winner of relief pitcher JEREMIAH BARR, who is now 2-0 after three contests for the unbeaten Stars (3-0 overall, 1-0 WBA). The Mavericks fell to 0-3-1 (0-1 WBA).

How did Ritayik explain his new-found success, especially after batting around .275 during the recent high school season?

“They saw I was young and just threw fastballs at me to quickly get me out,” said Ritayik. “I was able to turn on some inside pitches.”

According to several members of the Stars, when Ritayik first stepped to the plate for the first time, the Mavs catcher asked him what year he was. Ritayik said he was a sophomore. The catcher then asked what college he attended, but was shocked to discover his answer, “College? I’m still in high school.”

Except Ritayik proved to be anything but an easy out.

“When they went inside, I pulled the ball. When they went outside, it took it to the opposite field.”

All of this was welcome to Mickey D., Ritayik’s high school coach with the West Hills Wolf Pack.

“I’m happy for him,” added the coach. “It was as much a personal achievement as well as playing for the team.”

Stars shortstop HUNTER MARKEL also knocked in a pair of runs from the bottom of the batting order.

The Stars complete their season-opening, 4-game set with the Mavericks on Thursday at 5 p.m., also at West Hills High.

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