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Locals enjoy all-star game experience
Buddies Adrian Lujan, Mikie Lopez (middle) and Ricky Lopez participated in the Modesto Sunrise All-Star Classic on Saturday at Stanislaus State. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Rivals or teammates on the baseball diamond since childhood, Mikie Lopez, Adrian Lujan and Ricky Lopez represented their respective high schools while competing in the 27th Annual Modesto Sunrise All-Star Classic this past weekend in Turlock.

Mikie, a 2016 Central Valley graduate, and the West team defeated Ceres High seniors-to-be Adrian and Ricky and the East squad 7-5 in front of a record-crowd of 1,070 fans Saturday evening at Cal State Stanislaus.

"They're two of my best friends," Mikie said. "Adrian is my cousin. I've been playing with or against them since we were eight years old. We're always doing something together even if it's not baseball related."

"We got really close freshmen year," Adrian said. "We played summer ball together. We hung out a lot off the field. It was a good feeling seeing my buddies out there."

"It made the experience more comfortable," Ricky said. "We have good chemistry together."

Mikie played a total of three innings, including one at pitcher and two at third base.

He induced two popouts and one groundout after allowing a double in the fourth inning.

Mikie, who logged playing time at third base in the fifth and sixth innings, was hitless in two at-bats.

"It was a great experience," said Mikie, who had 20 family members and friends in the stands. "It's something I really valued. It was fun to be out there. It's always great to win."

Adrian played in left field in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

He had a sacrifice-fly RBI on offense.

"There was a lot of talent out there," Adrian said. "I didn't get to play much. I felt I represented our school in a good way. I was just trying to get good contact (on offense). I was really nervous (on defense). It's a position I'm not comfortable with. But coach had confidence in me. I just wanted to make sure I did everything right. I was grateful to be out there. I had a lot of fun. There wasn't any pressure."

Ricky, who logged playing time at shortstop in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, collected a double.

"It was an honor to play in the game," he said. "I enjoyed the atmosphere. Everybody was having fun. There wasn't much pressure. It's definitely the biggest crowd I've played in front of and one of the nicest fields I've played on."

Said Mikie: "I was cheering for them even though I was on the other team."

The West roster featured players from Central Valley, Downey, Gregori, Johansen, Modesto High, Big Valley Christian, Turlock, Turlock Christian and Oakdale.

The East roster consisted of talent from Ceres High, Beyer, Enochs, Grace Davis, Hughson, Pitman and Orestimba.

"We started this in 1990," said Carl Tognolini, chairman for the event. "At that time, there wasn't an all-star baseball game. It's kind of like a graduation. It's a fun time for the families, too. All the revenues we receive go back to the baseball programs."

"It was amazing," Mikie said while talking about the all-star experience. "It's the best field I've ever played on. It was a little nerve racking."

Adrian and Ricky could be repeat all-star game picks next spring.

Mikie will attempt to join Modesto JC's baseball program as a walk-on player.

"I just want my team to have a good season," Adrian said. "If I get selected again, that would be really cool."