Teams get their work, while honoring former Riverside player

— RIVERSIDE – The Austin Gorrell Memorial Baseball Classic returns for the seventh time since the 2015 passing of Kerry and Gina Gorrell’s oldest son. At the time of his passing, in his dorm room, Austin, a freshman playing baseball for the University of Nevada, had been diagnosed with a heart condition called cardiomyopathy. The diagnosis came during his preseason physical administered by the school’s athletic department in 2015.

Austin, who played in high school for JW North, was not wearing his assigned defibrillator vest when he died from heart failure at the early age of 19. His sudden death shook the Inland baseball community and that is when the Austin Gorrell Memorial Baseball Classic was created. Austin’s family and friends wanted to not only help honor Austin, but to also help local players with scholarship opportunities for college.

The tournament, set to run Nov. 19-22, started out with only nine area high school baseball teams and is now a major draw this time of year for teams and coaches. Not only does it pay homage to its namesake, but teams can also get an early gauge on their rosters, in a real game environment. After pool play, the gold and silver brackets will be decided for the playoff games, which are not CIF-Southern Section sanctioned games. CIF-SS games do not take place until next spring, but the championship game, which will be held Tuesday, Nov. 22, at 66ers Stadium, will pull in just as much excitement as any CIF finals game, that’s for sure.

The 7th annual Austin Gorrell Memorial Baseball Classic will feature local high school teams playing in games, honoring Austin (pictured), from Saturday Nov. 19 through Tuesday, Nov. 22. Valley News/Courtesy photo

During the week leading up to the final game, at each host site, there are tournament representatives that sell merchandise, where all the proceeds go toward the Austin Gorrell Scholarship fund. At the championship game, slated for 5 p.m., the Gorrell family then disperses scholarship checks to seniors that were selected by submitting essays to the tournament committee, on why they deserve the scholarship.

“With the help of the teams who have participated in this annual event, as well as community sponsors and generous donations, we have been fortunate enough over the past six years to award over $125,000 to 49 student-athletes in the form of scholarships for them to further their education beyond high school,” Kerry Gorrell stated in a press release.

The tournament will open with the annual Home Run Derby Friday, Nov. 18, at Ryan Bonaminio Park in Riverside starting at 5 p.m. This is a wonderful opportunity for attendees to interact with the Gorrell family, who always strive to help share their son’s story with those in attendance. This year 42 teams are signed up to play, which tops last year’s mark of 38. Prior to last year, which was won by Orange Lutheran (OC Lightning), a one-year hiatus was issued because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Area high school teams competing this year include last year’s runner-up Great Oak, Chaparral, Temescal Canyon, Paloma Valley, Murrieta Mesa, Murrieta Valley and Vista Murrieta. For those looking to catch a game, Temescal Canyon is a host site and in pool play will have Moreno Valley, Paloma Valley and Patriot at their field; Vista Murrieta will host Arlington and Centennial, Murrieta Mesa will host ML King and Canyon Springs; Great Oak will host Roosevelt and Citrus Valley; Chaparral will be playing their pool play games at Corona; and Murrieta Valley will be playing theirs at Riverside Poly.

​To find out more information about the event, visit www.austingorrellbaseballclassic.com.

JP Raineri can be reached by email at sports@reedermedia.com.