DETROIT — Temperatures hovered in that near-perfect, sunny but comfortable zone.
More than 1,200 fans filed into Comerica Park, and the countdown to a day so many looked forward to was officially over.
But the awe factor? There was no way to calculate that.
It was everywhere, from coach to player, to proud parent snapping photos from their infield seats.
And it was there from start to finish.
Another year, another showcase of just how strong high school baseball is in the state of Michigan.
On July 10, the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association put on its 33rd annual All-Star Game, and as usual, the guys deemed the best in 2014 didn’t disappoint.
“I really think a night like this, with the talent we saw, shows you how healthy the game is in this state,” said Bishop Foley coach and East Team assistant coach Buster Sunde.
“It was unreal, everything,” said North Farmington infielder David Lett. “The talent level out here was just awesome.”
Thirty-six players from across the state were selected by the East and West team’s three coaches, setting up a showdown of the 18 best players from each half of Michigan.
“That’s what’s so cool about this,” said Foley pitcher Garrett Schilling, who started on the mound for the East just months after his career was almost ended when he was hit by a line drive in the face. “To have a chance to represent Bishop Foley, and be selected as one of the top-36 players, that’s pretty cool.”
Schilling, headed to Xavier University next year, laughed about his start, which ended after two innings and five runs allowed.
“That’s the best high school lineup I’ve ever seen,” he said.
On the heels of a five-run second inning, a five-run eighth and a six-run ninth, the West squad rolled to a 19-7 victory.
“Pitching was the difference here,” said East skipper Darren Audia of Pontiac Notre Dame Prep. “We walked too many guys and gave them some runners. And when they had guys on base, they made their hits count.”
Audia, who’s guided Prep to the past two Catholic League finals at Comerica, is now 0-3 as a skipper there.
“It’s this dugout,” he said with a laugh. “I’m jinxed over here.”
The West eventually led 6-1 before Prep’s Aidan Cullen ripped a two-run home run to right to make it 6-3.
“I’m speechless, really,” Cullen said after the game. “I thought it was just a good hit, and I was booking to first. But when I rounded the bag, the guys were going crazy. I was like, ‘Did that really just happen?’”
“What a perfect thing to happen to a kid like that,” Audia added. “He’s one of the best players Prep has ever had, and to see him round third base, and the smile he had, that’s something I’ll never forget.”
The three-run deficit was the closest the East would get the rest of the way, trailing 8-5 at one point, as well.
“I’m not so sure the score is something you’ll really remember,” Grosse Pointe North’s Sal Ciaravino said from inside the dugout. “Playing here, with these guys and with your family down here supporting you, to be part of all that was pretty cool.”
“Meeting all these guys you wouldn’t otherwise, being able to pick their brain and talk about the game, that’s what you really enjoy,” said Will Salter, the Orchard Lake St. Mary’s grad who started at catcher for the East.
“It’s an awesome experience for all of us,” Audia added. “The kids are so great.”
Cullen, who was named the East Most Valuable Player, undoubtedly due to his deep shot to right, may have put it best.
“Tremendous honor for all of us,” he said. “We’re so fortunate to be part of this. So thankful for the opportunity.”