ABERDEEN, MD – The weather was hot Tuesday evening and the stadium was filled with 3,622 fans who, for the second time in Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium history, came to watch the New York-Penn League All-Star Game.
A three-run first inning gave the North team an early lead and, after adding another run in the fifth, they maintained that lead to win by a 4-2 margin.
“It’s amazing, especially when you see so much talent between the two clubs,” Aberdeen manager Luis Pujols – who managed the South team – said in his postgame interview. “I really enjoyed the game, but it’s too bad that we don’t play the game the right way it’s supposed to be…”
Special constraints during the game included a 25-pitch count, such that when the pitcher reached that number, the inning was over, regardless of how many outs there were. The first inning was cut off in this way, with only two outs posted.
Mitch Gueller (Williamsport) started on the mound for South. Gueller, who is playing with the ‘Cutters (PHI) for the third year, leads the NYPL with an ERA of 1.84. Tuesday night, Gueller allowed five of the first six batters to reach base and yielded three runs on four hits – including a two-run double by the All-Star Game’s MVP, Dexture McCall (Tri-City) – and one walk with three errors committed behind him.
“The fans and the players, it’s for them to say that ‘I had a good season. I made the All-Star team,’” Pujols said. “This isn’t the first time I have managed an All-Star team where there is pitch limit… Really, we didn’t do much. I told the guy, ‘Hey, if you want to steal, if you feel like it, go ahead and do it. If you want to run, go ahead and do it.’ It was impressive to see the way they went about their business.”
In the fifth inning, the North team knocked in another run. Spikes’ right-handed pitcher Juan Perez was on the mound, relieving Luis Cedeno (Staten Island). Perez hit North batter Anfernee Seymour (Batavia) to lead off. Seymour stole second and scored on an RBI single from Muckdogs teammate Brad Haynal.
Facing a 4-0 deficit in the home fifth, the South finally got on the scoreboard. Spikes’ left fielder, Michael Pritchard, replaced Ty Moore (West Virginia) and singled. Pritchard, who came in with 11 stolen bases, swiped second. He advanced on a Mark Laird (Williamsport) ground ball single to left-center and came home on a wild pitch from Jordan Holloway (Batavia).
“I saw it go down. I thought that for a second it was going to come off the wall a little harder than it did…,” Pritchard said. “I know it’s an All-Star Game and some guys are just kind of hanging out, but for the most part, my game is being aggressive and so, I do what I can do.”
While Pritchard scored, Laird went to second and made it to third as South batter Vinny Siena (Brooklyn) grounded out. Laird crossed home when Daniel Arribas (West Virginia) reached first on a throwing error.
Neither team would score again. The South had an opportunity to tie the game in the eighth, but fell short.
Grayson and Pina started at first and designated hitter, respectively, and stayed in the game for the entire 8 1/2 innings. Perez and Beck each threw one inning and Pritchard took over in left field in the bottom of the fifth.
After the game, the five Spikes plus the eight Williamsport all-stars, traveled back to State College together for a three-game series at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park that begins Wednesday evening.
“It’s good to be around a bunch of different guys,” Pritchard said. “It’s fun being with Grayson and Pina and Juan and it was just a fun, all-around deal. Me and all the guys, playing with guys you’ve never played before, and for the most part you see the same pitchers. But, at the end of the day, it was a great time and I’m glad we were here.”
Michael Pritchard: Pritchard first appeared in the lineup in left field in the bottom of the fifth. He went 1-for-2 with a single to left that broke his bat. Pritchard stole second, moved to third on a groundball single and came home on a wild pitch.
Leobaldo Pina: Pina started and finished as designated hitter for the South team. He went 1-for-4 with a double in the bottom of the second.
Casey Grayson: Grayson started and finished as first baseman for the South team. He went 0-for-3, but walked in the eighth.
Juan Perez: Perez pitched one inning – the fifth. He yielded one run on one hit, one walk and one hit batsman – Anfernee Seymour (Batavia) – while striking out one.
Landon Beck: Beck pitched one scoreless inning, the sixth, while striking out one, using just 12 of his capped 25 pitches to collect three outs.
Follow Stephanie Panny on Twitter @StephaniePanny.
© 2015 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.