By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Under the big lights of the historic USA Stadium, the post Memorial Day traditions of the AutoZone Shelby County All-Star Baseball Game gave dozens of the best seniors in the area one more day to shine as high schoolers.
The game between the Private School All-Stars and Public School All-Stars showcased big hits, good pitching and a pair of Jackson State signees taking home the MVP awards in the Public School’s 9-5 victory.
In losing effort, Christian Brothers’ standout Griffin Allen hit a two-run homer for the Private School Stars to earn his MVP award.
His future college teammate Ian Bibiloni had one more chance to shine as an Arlington Tiger. Bibiloni drove in two runs helping the Public School Stars win by four runs.
“For me, it was just about having fun,” Bibiloni said. “All these guys out here, obviously the elite seniors out here in the Memphis area. Personally, I had fun and I think two Jackson State commits ending up with the MVP for the night was nice.”
During the game USA Stadium recognized Bibiloni and his Arlington teammates for finishing as State runner ups in Class 3A. Also saluted were Harding Academy for finishing runner up in Division II-A and the Division II-AA State champions CBHS Purple Wave.
“We ended up losing to Baylor in the qualifier,” Allen recalled. “So we had to win that one to advance. That got us going, got us into gear. We just took it home and won the championship. You can’t beat that. I think this game you get the chance to play with a lot of guys you know. It lets you relax and go out to have fun. That’s what it is all about.”
CBHS’ legendary Head Coach Buster Kelso was recognized with some of his 2016 championship players. And prior to the first pitch, Collierville retired Head Coach Jeff Hopkins was honored before he tossed out the first pitch along side USA Stadium Director Johnny Ray.
Then it was time for the All-Stars to fire from the mound. The Private School All-Stars jumped out to a 3-0 advantage.
After CBHS’ Landon Kelly drove in a run, Allen crushed a two-run home run to make the score 3-0 in the first inning.
The Public School All-Stars chipped away at the Private School lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Houston’s Ayrton Schafer and Cooper Bullough used RBI singles to make the score 3-2 in favor of the Private School Stars.
The Public Schools took the lead in the second inning with four runs. Bibiloni tied the game with his base hit. Later in the frame Bartlett’s Phillip Bay drove in a pair of runs with a single to make the score 5-3.
Bibiloni made the score 6-3 executing a double steal to take home plate.
The Public School Stars increased their advantage in the fourth inning with Bibiloni driving in another run with a single. A few batters later Bullough use another base hit to score Bibiloni making the tally 8-3.
In the sixth inning the Private School Stars tried to mount a comeback when Will Buser of MUS smacked a two-out triple to score a pair of runners. The score was 8-5 in favor of the Publc School Stars.
The final run of the night was scored in the ninth inning by Millington’s Noah Graham. He reached base on a double to the outfield.
With ball caps of the Millington Trojans, St. Benedict Eagles, White Station Spartans, Tipton-Rosemark Academy Rebels and more on display, Bibiloni was happy to officially wear his blue, white and gold hat one more time.
“Arlington’s program has done a lot for me,” he said. “I’ve really matured through them. Thank you to the coaches. I’m just glad I was able to represent the school well. They’ve help get me to where I am, Coach (Chris) Ring especially. He helped me a lot with my game. I’m just glad I was able to make him proud and the program proud.”
Allen knows about playing for a proud program and legend like Kelso. The 2016 All-Star Game gave him one more chance to be an official Purple Wave.
“He’s a great Coach,” Allen concluded. “To help him get his 1,000th win meant a lot to us as team. Being a part of that was special and getting one more championship as a senior made it a more special season.
The 2016 Private School All-Stars were Peyton Smith (St. George’s), Griffin Allen (CBHS), William Locke (CBHS), Sam Cox (St. Benedict), Jake Criswell (Harding), Parker Jordan (Briarcrest), Benton Garrison (ECS), Zack James (TRA), Will Buser (MUS), Jake Sutton (Harding), Drake Conine (St. Benedict), Max Murray (MUS), Landon Kelly (CBHS) and Tyler Mills (FACS); with coaches Al Steven (Harding), John Jarnigan (MUS) and Craig Hopkins (Briarcrest.
The 2016 Public School All-Stars were Ian Bibiloni (Arlington), Dacoda Stone (Germantown), Luke Stevens (Bolton), Larkey Dotson (Bolton), Phillip Bay (Bartlett), Jim Doster (White Station), Cullen Ray (Houston), Ayrton Schafer (Houston), Hayden Edwards (Arlington), Noah Graham (Millington), Nic Blankenship (Houston), Copper Bullough (Houston), Brelin Carroll (Arlington), Jerad Jordan (Ridgeway), Myles Montgomery (Germantown), Jacob Nobles (Bartlett), Justin Fowlkes (Collierville), Josh Smith (Bartlett) and Adam Sanderlin (Collierville); with coaches Scotty Yount (Bolton), Chris Ring (Arlington) and Jeff Hopkins (retired Collierville).