Norfolk Sharks catcher Earl MacPherson was named the game MVP, and first-time selection Nick Rangel of the California Tidals got the win, in a high-scoring All-Star contest between the visiting Lake League and the hosting American Eagle League tonight in Calgary.
The AEL side, which were the hosts this year, won the game 12-10, as some of the top pitchers in both leagues were rung up for plenty of hits, and fans were treated to some incredible baseball.
The LL All-Stars opened the scoring right off the bat with a lead off infield single by Montreal’s Orlando Garza off of last year’s Rookie of the Year and Sandy Koufax Award winner for the AEL, Jose Soto of St. Petersburg. This was immediately followed by run-scoring triple by Detroit’s Dennis Guppy on a fly ball to deep left field.
Soto, who is so far having a dominant season otherwise, was rung up again, this time by Minneapolis outfielder Evandro Cerigo, who blasted another shot to nearly the same spot as Guppy, again tripling off the starter and scoring Guppy for run number 2.
Soto was able to regain control and send down the next three batters, including two on strikeouts. However, things went no better for the LL’s starter, Toronto Nomads ace Knuckles Malone. A one-out double by Miguel Ortega of Norfolk put a runner in scoring position early. One batter later, Ortega’s teammate from the Sharks, Danny Sanchez, last year’s winner of the AEL MVP award, grounded out and moved Ortega to third. Nevada’s Jim Lahey singled to left field, scoring Ortega. Then, Nevada’s Chitoji Yamada doubled down the first base line easily scoring Lahey from second.
The score was knotted up at 2-2, but the LL again looked to break it open, scoring 3 runs in the top of the 3rd. Three base hits scored the first run, another single loaded the bases, and a walk pushed a second run over the platter before a Jason Jankovic wild pitch scored the third run. With the LL ahead 5-2 going into the bottom half, the AEL looked to make up the deficit right away.
And that they did. With New York ace Jose Castaneda on the bump pitching in his second All-Star Game, he allowed Ortega to single on a first-pitch fastball, then two outs later saw Yamada walk as he tried to pitch around the slugger. But the next batter was the league’s all-time #2 home run hitter, Takeo Otomo of the St. Pete’s Admirals. And the 38-year-old has been swinging for the fences all season. He connected off a Castaneda first pitch and sent it over the wall to right, tying the game up a second time.
The LL again used some good baserunning to open a lead, going 6-5 in the top of the 4th. The AEL equalized again in the bottom half, and had tied the game for a third time.
The LL came back strong again, and in the top of the 5th they set up a run scoring play off a walk and a bunt to get two aboard. A second sac bunt pushed both runners into scoring position, and Toronto’s Ronnie van der Wal, playing in his first All-Star Game, pumped a line drive to the left field wall that resulted in a 2-RBI triple. The Dutchman scored an out later on a Nate Noftle wild pitch with Ohio’s Juan Toothry at bat. Van der Wal would have come home anyway as two pitches later Toothry homered to left.
The score now 10-6 for the Lake League, the AEL were persistent and again evened it up, allowing an error and stringing yet more singles off Toronto’s first-time All-Star pitcher Jamie Jones that scored one run, before another run scored on a sac fly by the Admirals Katai Kitigawa. It was the first inning in which the AEL did not even the score after the LL took the lead.
But the LL had run out of run-scoring gas, and the AEL came back in the bottom of the 7th to tie the game for a fourth time, after Nevada second baseman Mickey Pepin hit a fly ball to right that could not be chased down, turning into a 2-RBI triple that scored MacPherson and St. Pete’s first baseman Chris Pratt, who had reached base just prior.
With the scored tied at 10-10 both teams put up empty frames in the 8th, and California closer Nick Rangel was called to the mound to shut down the LL for the 9th, which he did on three strikeouts, allowing just one infield single. In the bottom of the 9th, with Boston’s Lenny Brisco pitching, a free pass was issued to Chris Pratt with one out. MacPherson stepped up to the plate and took Brisco yard on the first pitch, walking-off a 2-run shot that travelled 410 feet to left center. The final score was 12-10 for the AEL.
The game took 3 hours, 37 minutes to resolve and although rain threatened at one point, it held off and didn’t stop the game. A total of 39,750 fans attended Calgary’s Inferno Park to watch the excitement. Lenny Brisco was given the loss for the LL, Rimouski’s Kyle Cahill earned a blown save for allowing the AEL the fourth tie.
The game was broadcast live on the league’s Twitch channel.