FREDERICK, Md. - The South Division had jumped to a quick 4-0 lead in the second when Single-A Frederick third baseman Willy Yahn went up and down the North Division dugout, trying to pump up his teammates.
“I was just saying to the guys - semi-joking around and semi-serious - ‘Greatest comeback in All-Star Game history coming up,’ ” Yahn said. “We’re just trying to compete, no matter what the score is.”
Yahn capped a four-run sixth inning with a two-run double that shaved the South lead to 5-4, Frederick center fielder Cole Billingsley tied it with a seventh-inning RBI single and a three-run home run by Potomac’s Nick Banks in the eighth provided the margin of victory in an 8-7 North win before 6,927 at Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium on Tuesday night.
The South had parlayed a second-inning wild spurt by Lynchburg’s Juan Hillman, scoring four times on a hit batter, two walks and a throwing error by Hillman that led to two unearned runs.
With the South throwing power arm after power arm at the North, the home team found it difficult to mount any offense. The North was limited to three hits through the first five innings.
“Well, we have good players - it’s an All-Star game,” said Frederick’s Ryan Minor, who skippered the North. “These guys are veteran guys who know how to hang in there and get something going against really quality arms.”
That finally happened in the sixth against Winston-Salem righty Will Kincanon. Leadoff hitter Ryan Fitzgerald of Salem walked and went to third on a single by Lynchburg’s Oscar Gonzalez. A sac fly by Salem’s Pedro Castellanos finally got the North on the scoreboard, but the home team wasn’t finished.
Billingsley reached on a fielder’s choice, then stole second and third bases. After a walk to Potomac’s Aldrem Corredor, Cole Freeman singled in a run and Yahn plated a pair with a double, trimming the South lead to 5-4.
Facing Carolina’s Rodrigo Benoit in the seventh, Banks drew a leadoff walk and the North manufactured a two-out rally. Castellanos singled and Billingsley’s RBI single to center tied the game at 5-5.
The tie lasted only until the home eighth. Freeman was hit by a pitch from Myrtle Beach’s Paul Richan to lead off, and Yahn’s single to center put runners at the corners. After MJ Melendez struck out, Banks sent Richan’s first pitch, an 80 mph slider that caught too much of the plate, down the left field line for a three-run homer.
Wilmington’s Tony Zuber got the save, but yielded a two-run blast to Fayetteville’s Cory Julks before getting Down East’s Diosbel Arias swinging at a third strike for the game’s final out.
Wilmington’s Ted Ratliff was the winning pitcher. Richan took the loss.
Right-hander Mike Baumann started for the North and threw a scoreless inning. Righty Luis Pérez tossed 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, allowing a hit, and right-hander David Lebron allowed two hits during a scoreless frame. Right-hander Stephen Klimek walked one and fanned two during a scoreless inning of relief.