Updated July 23 2008
CPL All-Star Game: National Rallies Through Rain for Win
ASHEBORO, N.C. - (*The following story was written by Dennis Garcia, Sports Editor for the Courier-Tribune in Asheboro, N.C.)
With overcast skies and rain falling throughout the night, there were no stars seen in the sky Tuesday night at McCrary Park.
But there were plenty of stars on the field as the National team recorded a 5-3 victory over the American team in the annual Coastal Plain League All-Star Game in a contest that was shortened to seven innings because of the weather.
Six different pitchers combined to throw a four-hitter for the National team as Asheboro Copperhead Daniel Wagner (Belmont) was the brunt of the American offense with two hits, including a three-run homer.
Wagner earned the Rawlings Offensive Player of the Game Award.
Peninsula’s Deck McGuire (Georgia Tech) hurled two shutout innings for the National team, recording a pair of strikeouts, in earning the Rawlings Defensive Player of the Game Award.
“I have to give a lot of credit to my coach Hank Morgan (of Peninsula),” said McGuire, who coaxed four easy grounders and fanned two in his two innings. “He was able to get me ready. I threw in the bullpen a few days ago to get ready. It was just an honor to come out here and face these guys.”
McGuire earned the win as the National team grabbed the lead for good with a four-run fourth inning. Wagner had given the American team a 3-1 lead in the second with a line-drive, three-run shot to right-centerfield.
“I just wanted to play hard and enjoy the experience,” Wagner said.
Despite the rain-shortened game, National team head coach Jason Krug said it was a great experience.
“Win or lose, it’s an honor to be here around these players and the great coaches,” Krug said. “What you want to do is showcase the talent and not get anyone hurt. Tonight was a win-win situation for us.”
The National team grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when Edenton’s Brett Nommensen (Eastern Illinois) deposited a Steve Grife (Mercyhurst) fastball over the wall in left-centerfield.
Grife, from Florence, surrendered a couple of more hits in the second inning, but the National team was unable to add any more off of Grife.
But the National team didn’t have any trouble solving Wilson’s Ryne Mantooth (Austin Peay State) in the fourth. Trailing 3-1 after Wagner’s three-run homer, they roughed up Mantooth, recording five hits and using two walks to plate four runs.
With one out, Forest City’s Jordan Petraitis (Miami of Ohio) singled and after walks to Fayetteville’s Parker Bangs (South Carolina) and Wilson’s Justin Parks (West Virginia), Wilson’s Matt Sanders (Clemson) singled in a run and Edenton’s Ty Boyles (Gardner-Webb) followed with a game-tying single. Wilmington’s Bobby Leeper (UNC-Wilmington) then hit a high-hopper that squeezed through the infield into centerfield that plated two more runs, giving the National team a 5-3 lead. The National team could have scored more, but Florence’s Jamie Walczak (Mercyhurst), playing right field for the American team, nailed a runner at the plate and then another runner was cut down at the plate on an attempted double steal.
“In baseball, you never know when the big inning is going to come,” said Krug. “We got a couple of walks and the ball bounced our way that inning.”
Leading 5-3, the National team then sent Edenton’s Luke Demko (Rhode Island), Gastonia’s Tyler Musselwhite (South Carolina) and Martinsville’s Mike Piazza (Florida Tech) to the mound for one shutout inning each. Demko fanned three in his one inning of work.
“This was a great experience, I just wish we could have finished the game,” said American head coach Wes Davis of Florence. “But I’m proud of the way we played. The pitching on both sides was tremendous.”
Wagner’s shot in the second came after a one-out double by Thomasville’s Chris McGuinness (The Citadel) and a single from Myckie Lugbauer (Maine), but the only offense the American team managed after that was a leadoff single by Wagner in the fifth and a walk in the sixth. McGuire worked the third and fourth innings and Piazza finished up to earn the save, fanning two in the seventh.
Nommensen finished with two hits for the National team.
“This was such a pleasure,” said Krug. “The whole city of Asheboro did a tremendous job and when you can come out here and be with the type of talent we had here… This has been great.”