Although the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs may have struggled during the first half of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball season schedule that ended Sunday, five players were able to play in Wednesday evening’s Atlantic League All-Star Game at PeoplesBank Park in York, Pennsylvania.
Ironically, for a team that has struggled to score runs throughout the season, Southern Maryland center fielder Cory Vaughn won the abbreviated home run derby prior to the game. Vaughn belted three home runs in the final to upend New Britain’s Jonathan Galvez, after smacking five homers in the opening round to earn a berth in the finals.
“I’m glad for Cory,” Southern Maryland manager Stan Cliburn said of Vaughn. “He’s been one of our hottest hitters over the last month or so. Defensively, he’s also made a lot of plays for us in center field.”
Vaughn fanned in his first at-bat of the game and Southern Maryland veteran hurler Daryl Thompson went to the hill for the Freedom Division in the top of the second but was not treated well by the Liberty Division batters.
In his lone inning on Wednesday evening, Thompson allowed two runs on one hit and one walk and threw strikes on 10 of 18 pitches. Thompson walked Somerset’s Will Kengor then yielded a two-run homer to Somerset’s Mike Ohlman before retiring the next batter on a fly out to Vaughn in center field and departed trailing, 2-0.
In the bottom of the third, Vaughn singled to load the bases and the Freedom lineup was on the verge of getting Thompson off the hook. But the next Freedom batter, York’s Isaias Tejeda, grounded into an inning-ending double play and the Liberty lineup then was unable to add it its 2-0 lead against another Southern Maryland hurler, Kevin Munson, who allowed back-to-back singles in the fourth but escaped unscathed.
The Freedom lineup got one run in the bottom of the fourth as Lancaster’s Joey Terdoslavich doubled then scored on a single by York’s Welington Dotel to narrow the gap to 2-1.
Munson went back to the hill and tossed a perfect fifth against Liberty, but the Freedom failed to draw even in the bottom of the inning as Vaughn flew out to right. Munson threw strikes on 22 of 29 pitches, allowing two hits and fanning two batters in two scoreless innings of work.
Southern Maryland reliever Mat Latos tossed a perfect seventh against the Liberty lineup. Latos retired Alfredo Rodriguez on a grounder to shortstop, fanned Justin Pacchioli looking then induced Deibinson Romero to groundout softly to first to end the frame.
The Freedom lineup finally got Thompson off the hook in the bottom of the seventh and briefly put Latos in line for the win.
After Ryan Dent singled, Tejeda belted a two-run homer to give Freedom a 3-2 lead. Charlie Valerio, the final Blue Crabs player to get into the contest, then struck out as a pinch-hitter to end the seventh.
Latos tossed a perfect eighth and finished with two scoreless innings while striking out two and needing just 19 pitches, 14 for strikes, to complete his outing.
Freedom was one out away from getting the win when New Britain’s Logan Moore homered to right off Lancaster reliever and former Blue Crabs closer Cody Eppley in the top of the ninth to even the score at 3.
Freedom got the winning run on base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth on a single by Lancaster’s Anderson De La Rosa. That brought Vaughn to the plate with a chance to extend the game or even win it, but he popped out to shortstop to keep the score knotted at 3.
Vaughn played the entire game and went 1 for 5 while hitting second in the Freedom batting order.
When the Freedom failed to break the 3-3 deadlock in the bottom of the ninth, a homer-off, much like the home run derby that preceded the game, was needed to decide the winner.
Galvez failed to hit a single home run in his eight swings for the Liberty Division, but Tejeda ended the drama when he smacked a homer to seal it for the Freedom. He was also named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Wednesday’s All-Star Game was also the first using a radar system titled TrackMan designed to help home plate umpires call balls and strikes. Home plate umpire Brian deBrauwere wore an earpiece connected to an iPhone in his pocket that received a signal from the TrackMan computer system that uses Doppler radar.
Atlantic League President Rick White noted earlier this week that the TrackMan radar system of relaying balls and strikes to the home plate umpires would be implemented throughout the Atlantic League when games resume today.
“After that, we’re relatively confident that it’s going to spread throughout organized baseball,” White said in a news release announcing the TrackMan implementation.