Good hitting, crisp fielding, and solid pitching usually define an All Star squad. Not so in Stockton Tuesday night. The Carolina League traveled to the West Coast to face the California League for their annual All Star tradition. In a game marred by errors and pitchers losing control, the California League All Stars took an early advantage to a 10-5 win.
The Carolina squad had a good beginning but not much else went right for the visiting All Stars. Rowdy Hardy of the Wilmington Blue Rocks started the game for Carolina and allowed one hit and a walk in his inning of work.
The pitchers that followed gave up all of California's ten runs, one after the other. Salem's Brad James lost the strike zone in the second inning. James walked four batters in one inning, including walking in a run. California scored three times off James to take a quick 3-0 lead.
Almost all the pitchers chosen for the respective squads got in the game. Wilmington's Julio Pimentel, Kinston's Frank Herrmann, Myrtle Beach's Moises Hernandez, and Salem's Samuel Gervacio couldn't get through their allotted innings without giving up runs. California scored at least once in five consecutive innings.
Lake Elsinore had more than a few players leading the statistics races in the California League and as a result sent six All Stars to Stockton. Five appeared in the starting lineup. California benefited big time from the Storm's All Star representatives. David Freese had two runs batted in on a base hit and a sacrifice fly and he scored two runs.
Matt Antonelli had two RBI as well, one when he drew a bases loaded walk from Pimentel in the third inning. Kyle Blanks walked twice and scored a run. Chad Huffman also walked with the bases loaded. It makes up for being the only Storm starter without a hit in the game.
California starting pitcher Wade LeBlanc of Lake Elsinore took home Pitcher of the Game honors for his one inning of work where he struck out two hitters.
Carolina jumped on the chance to score not long after California put up their first three runs of the game. The bottom of Carolina's order got to Inland Empire's James McDonald for two runs. Blake Davis made contact with two runners on in the third inning. Davis' hit was the first solid hit of the night for Carolina.
The visiting All Stars would get three more runs in the game. Two came against San Jose's Taylor Wilding. Wilding represented the Giants by himself and would have done well if his defense hadn't let him down. The Giants' right hander struck out two batters but allowed two runs. Neither was earned, as the runs scored thanks to two errors committed by California infielders in the inning.
Stockton's Anthony Recker delivered more local goodness. Recker walked twice and doubled. He stretched his base hit into a two-base hit by hustling when Carolina right fielder Aaron Cunningham missed the ball on his diving play. Recker would score on Freese's RBI hit.
Despite six errors between the teams and shaky relief pitching, there were moments of defensive brilliance and pitching dominance. Davis made a diving stop on a ball hit up the middle in the fourth inning. Freese scored from third on the play, but Davis saved the hit from bringing Lucas May from second, and setting up Antonelli in scoring position. Mario Lisson came up with a brilliant play to get the third out of the inning, another dire dive.
Wilmington's Gilbert de la Vara stopped California's scoring binge when he retired the side in the seventh inning, striking out one hitter. Bob McCrory of Frederick and James Deters of Kinston combined for one inning of perfect relief after de la Vara.
California's victory pushes the series record to 5-4-2 with Carolina on top in the eleven years of the event. 2008's All Star Game switches to Myrtle Beach June 24.
Home Run Derby report: Three hitters from each league competed in a display of power hitting. Kinston's Chris Gimenez, Lynchburg's Jason Delaney, and Winston-Salem's Micah Schnurstein represented Carolina, while Recker, High Desert's Adam Moore, and Lancaster's Bubba Bell were in for California.
Recker went head-to-head with Gilory native Gimenez in the final round. Gimenez took the home run crown with seven homers in the final round. His power show helped Carolina win the team title. Gimenez won $500 for himself and another $500 to be split between him and the other two visiting hitters in the derby.
All Star Notes: More local favorites were on the scene. Oakland Raiders great Fred Biletnikoff and Lodi native Bridget Marquardt of reality television and Playboy fame were honorary coaches for the game...Recker had a good evening. Aside from making the finals of the Home Run Derby and getting a hit in his home ballpark during the All Star Game, he also received a kiss from Ms. Marquardt after she threw the ceremonial first pitch...Rancho Cucamonga's Darren O'Day left the game after a comebacker hit him on the upper right arm. Cunningham hit a ball right up the middle and it bounced off O'Day's body. O'Day then recovered to make an awkward throw and accidentally hit Cunningham in the head as he crossed the first base bag. Stockton's coaching staff pulled O'Day immediately after the play.
The views expressed in the columns do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the site's publisher, writers, or other staff members. The content on this site may not be redistributed without the expressed consent of SFDugout.com.