East County Sports

Stars endure longest game in 21st Century

Courtesy photo, NBC World Series Facebook page



By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

Watch the replay HERE

HUTCHISON, Kan. —- The San Diego Stars survived their record-tying longest game in the 21st Century, going 15 innings before outlasting the Denver Cougars, 2-1, in the ballclubs’ opener the 88th annual National Baseball Congress World Series.

San Diego *17-8 overall) came within a batter of suffering a 1-0 setback, but an RBI single by catcher Andrew Ritayik extended the contest.

Andrew Ritayik, Game-tying RBI in 9th

“The entire team was locked in from the first pitch of the game,” said Stars manager Sam Hughes (West Hills ’17). “When things weren’t going our way, everybody stayed up and wanted the next shot.

In the 15th, after the Cougars finally registered a run against the Stars bullpen, San Diego needed just three batters to score twice, advancing to the winners bracket of the Series’ 16-team, double-elimination event for summer collegiate programs.

Tyler Begg opened by jumping on a 3-0 fastball, drilling a double on the short-hop off the left-field wall.

Ethan Wright was credited with an infield single on his beating out his bunt, then raced to third when the Cougars pitcher overthrew first base, allowing Wright to advance to third base.

Danny Zapeda  (Sweetwater HS) then looped a 1-2 pitch into center field against a drawn-in infield for a single to plate Wright with the walk-off, game-winner,

Danny Zapeda: Game-Winning RB in 15th

“Tyler Begg starting the inning off with a huge double led to Ethan Wright’s bunt, and when you do your job good things can happen,” added Hughes, who is being assisted by fellow West Hills alum Joey Krug. “We all knew Danny Zapeda just needed one shot and he came up huge to end it.”

While the clutch pitching was nice, the performance of the pitching staff could be rated even better.

Starting pitcher Jake Sergent (Grossmont College), who announced he accepted a scholarship for NAIA power Tennessee Wesleyan (56-8 record in 2022) before the NBCWS opener thanks to a stellar summer season with the Stars, allowed just five hits in seven innings.

Sergent was tagged for an unearned run in the seventh, giving Denver its first lead. Sergent struck out seven Cougars batters against just one walk.

The Stars bullpen did even better.

Gavin Perry (San Diego Christian College) fired three innings of no-hit ball, yielding just one base-runner on a walk, but that was erased when the Stars turned on one of two double plays, both started by third baseman Jason Gonzalez.

Joshua Miller, winning pitcher after 7 innings of relief

Next up was newcomer Joshua Miller, a tournament roster addition out of Southwest Mississippi Community College. Miller, a 6-foot-1 right-hander, pitched all six extra innings, striking out eight Denver batters,

At one point, Miller retired 12 straight batters, including striking out the side in the 14th. However, the Cougars did plate a run in the 15th to end his string of 5.1 scoreless innings of relief.

Nevertheless, Miller gained the victory thanks to the STars’ 15th-inning rally.

“Jake had a huge start and kept us in the game for seven, long innings,” Hughes noted. “Gavin came in and did a great job.”

“However, our new pick up, Joshua Miller, was huge going 6 1/3 innings out of the pen. Miller fits into the Stars like he’s been here for years.”

Miller hails from Ruston, La., pitches collegiately in Mississippi, then pitched this summer for the Derby Twins out of Kansas.

For San Diego, Zapeda, Ritayik and designated hitter Luke Arias led with two hits each in the surprisingly cool 72-degree temperatures.


Sam Hughes, who took over as field manager when the late Mickey Deutschman, the Stars’ owner/manager for 40 years,pass away nearly two years ago:

“I’m so proud of these boys to battle as hard as they did the entire  15 years. Mickey would’ve been proud if these young men.”

“A lot of the original Stars didn’t think we could do it, but we did it. Hopefully, we do well the rest of the tournament. I know these boys will battle the rest of the tournament — all for Mickey.”

Next for the Stars is a Sunday contest the Santa Barbara Foresters, which dominated the Haysville (Kan.) Aviators, 6-0.  The start time has not been switched to 3 p.m. CT (1 p.m. Pacific) due to a pending thunderstorm slated to hit the south Kansas area.

Notes: The longest NBCWS game in history was a 19-inning marathon in 1961… The Stars also played a 15-inning game in the championship of the NBC Western Regional final, forcing a playback final, which rgw Stars also won.

Stars catcher Andrew Ritayik is all smiles following his game-tying, RBI single in the bottom of the 9th inning. The Stars finally won in 15 innings, 3-2, over the Denver Cougars in the first round of the 88th annual National Baseball Congress World Series, played in Hutchison, Kan. /Photo by Beth Schmith

Stars History: 2013

Andees Enriquez

The last time the San Diego Stars captured an NBCWS contest in walk-off fashion saw late-season roster addition Andres Enriquez, a sophomore-to-be at San Diego State, slugged a 2-run triple in the bottom of the 9th inning, as the Stars shocked the San Diego Force, 2-1, in an elimination contest held at historic Lawrence–Dumont Stadium in Wichita, Kan..

Pinch-runner Michael Lange scored the deciding run…

…to ignite a wild celebration.

File photos / Courtesy NBCWS

The victory was the 1,000th in the career of Stars owner/manager Mickey Deutschman. After the season, “Mickey D” was elected to the National Semipro Baseball  Hall of Fame, located in Evansville, Ind.

Last year at this time, Mickey D was posthumously enshrined to the NBC World Series Hall of Fame.

In order ro qualify for the nationals in Wichita, the Stars also pulled some magic over the Force in the NBC Western Regional qualifying tournament. Coming through the challengers bracket, the Stars first defeated the (now defunct) San Diego Mavericks, 13-7, to advance o the championship round. The next day, the Stars then swept the Force,  6-1 in the championship game, then 18-8 in the playback final.



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