Foss, Freeman power American Division All-Stars to lopsided win

Regal Plastic 3B Taylor Foss had never played at Kauffman Stadium before walking to home plate Monday in the bottom of the first inning during the 2022 Ban Johnson All-Star Game.

“I was very nervous, but I just told myself to swing and I’d have a lot more fun rather than trying to see pitches,” Foss said.

With two runners on, the game plan was simple.

“To be honest, I was hunting a first-pitch fastball there,” Foss said. “I faced Austin Brooks last week and he got the best of me three times, so I was just sitting on a fastball there and hoping I could beat him this time.”

Brooks (Plattsburg/Metropolitan CC) — a star right-hander for the BJ Raiders, who was selected as MVP of the 2022 BJCL Championship Series — obliged with a first-pitch heater.

Foss (Shawnee Mission West/Baker) crushed it to deep right field, one-hopping the outfield fence for a two-run triple as the American Division All-Stars set sail on a 15-2 victory.

The American Division All-Stars before the 2022 Ban Johnson Collegiate League All-Star Game on Monday August 1, 2022, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri (Jason Hanna/Kansas City Royals)
The National Division All-Stars before the 2022 Ban Johnson Collegiate League All-Star Game on Monday August 1, 2022, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri (Jason Hanna/Kansas City Royals)

With the American side up 3-0 after the first inning, Foss was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to kick off an eight-run second inning.

Ban Johnson Legends RF Darius Freeman (Shawnee Mission Northwest/Kansas City Kansas CC) capped the outburst with an RBI triple.

Ban Johnson Legends RF Darius Freeman (right) slides into third base for a triple ahead of the tag by Creche Innovations Stars 3B Joseph Daneff (left).

In between, NKC Apartments Giants DH Koen Gakstatter (Blue Valley West/McPherson) and Adapt Physical Therapy Prospects LF Parker Disidore (St. Thomas Aquinas/Oklahoma Wesleyan) each had a two-run single while Legends SS Alex Rodriguez (Park Hill South/Park) smacked a two-run double.

The National Division All-Stars’ only runs came on a two-run single from Raiders 2B Jacob Selock (Liberty/Northwest Missouri State) in the bottom of the second inning.

BJ Raiders 2B Jacob Selock (left) catches a pop-up during the 2022 BJCL All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.

Freeman, who was selected as the All-Star Game MVP, added another RBI triple in the fourth.

Legends CF Caleb Adams (Lansing/Kansas City Kansas CC) had his own RBI triple in the fifth inning and scored on a sacrifice fly by Foss, who nearly poked the first pitch he saw over the left-field wall. The rope into the corner was called foul.

“I thought I had it out, but it top-spinned a lot so it came down,” Foss said. “Then, I was like, ‘Oh, I’ve got to run.’ But I don’t know. It was close. Some say it was fair; some say it was foul.”

Three pitches later, Foss lifted a fly ball into right field, finishing the day with four RBIs.

KC Knights CF Joey Calamaio (Shawnee Mission South/MidAmerica Nazarene) added an RBI single in the sixth for the game’s final run.

Foss said the team’s mentality was to “take in the moment and have fun,” which the American Division squad certainly did.

“The dugout was really energetic,” said Freeman, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch Thursday before the Royals-Red Sox game at Kauffman Stadium as a perk for winning MVP honors. “Everyone is friends with everyone. We’re all having fun and not letting the moment get too big for us. We’re just a bunch of kids playing baseball again at a park we all dreamed of playing at.”

Players from the 2022 BJCL All-Star Game congratulate one another after the annual All-Star Game on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.

Giants RHP Clayton Medlin, a four-time BJCL All-Star selection, struck out one in a perfect opening inning and picked up the victory.

“When I play for a team like this, I just know that every guy behind me is an extremely good fielder, so I can have full confidence just pitching to contact,” Medlin said.

He closed the 2021 BJCL All-Star Game with a scoreless frame for the American squad in a 5-1 win last summer, but he said starting was a terrific new experience.

“Starting was a lot of fun,” Medlin said. “I got to go through my full warmup routine. I never have really liked coming out of the pen. I never felt like I got warmed up all that well. Closing last year was a lot of fun too, so I can’t really decide what I liked more.”

Medlin expects to play at least half of the BJCL season again next summer, making a fifth All-Star appearance possible.

“I love playing Ban Johnson,” Medlin said. “I think it’s a lot of fun, so I’d like to still play a half-season like I did in 2021.”

The outcome was no longer in doubt by the eighth inning, but the game had some juice left when Regal RHP Jacob Ciafullo (Raytown/Southwestern CC [Iowa]) jogged out to the mound to the delight of a cheering section more than three dozen strong.

“That felt amazing,” Ciafullo said. “The adrenaline was going through me. It was amazing and felt like I was actually playing for the Royals or something like that.”

Ciafullo said he comes from a large Italian family, so the cheering section was packed with cousins along with some friends sprinkled in.

“I knew about 20 of them were coming,” Ciafullo said. “I didn’t know like 40 of them were coming, so that was a bit of a surprise there, but it felt good to throw in front of my family like that.”

Ciafullo walked two and struck out two, but he worked out of trouble to post a scoreless inning.

“That felt good,” said Ciafullo, who had never pitched at Kauffman Stadium before. “It was electric out there. That was the best field I’ve ever played on.”

Three other American Division pitchers — Milgram Mustangs LHP Alex Walton (Bixby [Oklahoma]/Avila), Regal LHP Jacob Fickenscher (Park Hill/St. Olaf [Minnesota]) and Legends RHP Bryce Perdieu (Blue Springs/Park) — each struck out two in a scoreless inning of work.

Asked if the experience lived up to what he’d hoped for, Foss said, “More. Way more. It was definitely worth putting in the work this summer. It was awesome.”

Freeman, who also had never played at Kauffman Stadium before Monday, added, “It’s a dream to be able to play at a major-league ballpark. Not many people can say they’ve made it this far and got to play in a major-league ballpark. It was incredible.”