(Via St. Paul Saints) The top players in the American Association squared off at CHS Field for the 2019 American Association All-Star Game. The South scored the first three runs of the game, but it was the North that scored the final seven and the lone representative from the Gary SouthShore RailCats, Colin Willis, took home MVP honors as the North downed the South 7-3 in front of 7,565N
St. Paul Saints starter Eddie Medina got the start in front of the home crowd, but it was Sioux City Explorers shortstop Nate Samson that greeted him with a lead off double to right-center. Cleburne Railroader Chase Simpson followed that with a two-run blast to right-center giving the South a 2-0 lead. Medina would strike out Cody Regis and then depart the game. Winnipeg Goldeye’s lefty Mitchell Lambson walked the first batter he faced and then retired the next two hitters to end the inning.
The pitchers then got into a groove as Kansas City T-Bones ace Tommy Collier retired the side in order in the bottom of the first.
Chicago Dogs lefty Luke Westphal and Kevin Hilton from the Texas AirHogs retired the side in order in their respective halves of the second.
In the third, T.J. House of the Milwaukee Milkmen faced the minimum while getting a strikeout.
In the bottom half Taylor Hill of the Sioux Falls Canaries got out of trouble. He walked the leadoff hitter, the Saints Jeremy Martinez and, with two outs, gave up a double to Saints outfielder Dan Motl that put runners at second and third. House got Wes Darvill of the Goldeyes to ground out to first to end the inning.
In the fourth the teams traded runs as Angel Ventura of the Dogs gave up a one out double to John Nester of the Railroaders. The league’s leading hitter, Alay Lago of the Sioux Falls Canaries, doubled to right-center driving home Nester giving the South a 3-0 lead.
In the bottom of the fourth Lincoln Saltdogs reliever Austin Boyle gave up a leadoff double to the Saints Brady Shoemaker. He moved to third on a single to center by Chicago’s Keon Barnum. After a strikeout, Leo Pina of the RedHawks drove in Shoemaker with a groundout to short putting the North on the board making it 3-1.
The North pitchers shut it down from the fifth inning on. RedHawks starter Sebastian Kessay pitched a scoreless fifth, giving up a one out single to Samson and walking Simpson, but he retired the next two hitters to end the inning.
In the bottom of the inning the North got to within one as Tyler Fallwell of the Explorers gave up a leadoff single to left to the Saints Josh Allen. Motl then hit a ball to center the went off the glove of Zach Nehrir of Cleburne that put runners at second and third. Darvill singled home Allen making it 3-2. Fallwell struck out the next to hitters ending the inning.
The Saints Todd Van Steensel gave up a one out single in the sixth to Lago, but retired the next two hitters on groundouts to short.
In the bottom of the sixth the North tied it up off Explorers reliever Matt Pobereyko as Chicago’s Victor Roache clubbed a solo shot to left.
In the seventh, the RedHawks Geoff Broussard walked Simpson with two outs, but struck out Cody Regis of Lincoln to end the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh the North took their first lead of the game off of Explorers reliever Nate Gercken. T.J. Bennett of Lincoln led off with a single to right and Willis followed with a double putting runners at second and third. A groundout to short by Darvill scored Bennett giving the North a 4-3 lead. A wild pitch scored Willis making it 5-3.
In the eighth, Myles Smith of the Milkmen hit Mike Hart of the Canaries, but got Roy Morales of the T-Bones to ground into a double play and then got Lago to ground out to third.
In the bottom of the eighth Tyler Wilson of Cleburne started the inning, but walked three straight hitters with one out. Then Willis dropped a two-run single into right giving the North a 7-3 lead. Wilson departed for his teammate, Jesus Sanchez. He got Darvill to line out and Manuel Boscan of Milwaukee to strikeout to end the inning.
In the ninth, Goldeyes closer Victor Capellan finished it off. He walked Randolph Oduber of Lincoln to lead off the inning, but fanned Nehrir and Kevin Taylor of Sioux Falls looking. Capellan ended the game on a line out to third off the bat of Samson.
Broussard received the win and Gercken took the loss. Willis went 2-2 with a double, two RBI and a run scored in winning the MVP.