Seven? Eight? A win (for Hillsborough) is a win in All-Star Classic


Brandon’s Josh Blake lines an RBI double in the second inning driving in what would prove to be the winning run as Hillsborough defeated Pinellas in the annual Rays High School All-Star Classic.

By Jarrett Guthrie

We’ve posted more than 190 photos from this game on our SmugMug account (click here).

ST. PETERSBURG – In one final high school baseball hoorah the score, well, it really doesn’t matter. That’s why though the 2022 edition of the annual Rays Hillsborough-Pinellas All-Star Classic hosted at Tropicana Field ended in an 8-2 victory for the 813, no one really minded that the scoreboard missed one of Hillsborough County’s sixth-inning runs.

The game was quickly and decidedly in Hillsborough’s favor as Bloomingdale’s Colby Shelton crushed a triple to the track in centerfield, Lennard’s John Smith walked and stole second, setting up Wharton’s Elijah Dukes to drive in a pair of first-inning runs with a single through the right side.

“This was a fun experience and coming onto a team like this with the pieces we had, I just had to do my job and try and get those guys in,” Dukes said. “Put up two runs early and that gave our team some gasoline, the fuel we needed to do it over and over again.

“And our pitching did a great job. Everything just came together for us.”

From there Hillsborough County’s pitching held Pinellas in check as righty Will Sotiropoulos (Tampa Prep), lefty Julian Vargas (Jefferson) and right hander Sal Urso Jr. (Hillsborough High) turned in scoreless innings.

Julian Vargas3-2

The 813 side added two more runs as Plant City catcher Colin Shultz singled in the second, was replaced for a speed-up runner in Plant’s Thomas Bolton, who scored on a double off the bat Josh Blake (Brandon).

“There is no better way to finish your high school career,” Blake said. “… Getting to play with guys from all these different schools and everyone got to play a part, this was a lot of fun.”

Coltin Pizzio (Leto) traded places with Blake with his own line drive RBI double to give his team a four-run lead.

Pizzio a four-year varsity starter for the Falcons posted a career .358 average across 84 high school games. The St. Petersburg College bound middle infielder said the chance to wear the uniform he’s grown up in one last time was special.

“Pretty much my whole life, I’ve grown up on the field with my uncle (Leto head coach JJ Pizzio) and my dad (Falcons assistant Bobby Pizzio), growing up around guys who mentored me and made me the player I am today,” Pizzio said. “They taught me to put everything I have into what I do on the field and that’s what I did today.”

Coltin Pizzio pregame

Three more clean innings from lefty Anthony Arteaga (Leto), righty Evan Mobley (Freedom), southpaw Ben Potsic (East Bay), with Mobley striking out the side and Arteaga struck out a pair leaving the bases loaded.

Evan Mobley1-2

Freedom’s Evan Mobley struck out three in his inning on the mound for Hillsborough.

Hillsborough made the game a wash with a four-run sixth as Berkeley Prep second baseman Anthony Castillo singled in a pair, followed by an RBI groundout from Ethan Pues (Strawberry Crest), and Robinson’s Lamont Akins drove in the final run for his team with an RBI single – the run scoring prior to Akins getting thrown out trying to stretch to second base. Plant’s Thomas Bolton scored twice, and Donald Gorgei (Hillsborough) scored runs.


Brandon’s Fisher Smith kept Pinellas off the board in the seventh with a pair of strikeouts, but Akins found himself in a little trouble on the mound for Hillsborough County. The 727 loaded the bases for Northeast’s Cayden Evans who drove in a run with a groundball fielder’s choice scoring Calvary Christian’s Dillon Costello. Pinellas added its second and final run on a balk called on Akins.

Calvary Dillon Costello AB-2

Calvary Christian’s Dillon Costello singled and scored a run for Pinellas. 

Seffner Christian’s Joe Tomasello closed out the win pitching a scoreless ninth inning for Hillsborough County.

Joe Tomasello postgame

We’ve posted more than 190 photos from this game on our SmugMug account (click here).