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Anderson plates Sally North All-Star win06/23/2009 10:51 PM ET
By Jacob Messer / Special to MLB.com
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Northern Division survived a back-and-forth baseball battle Tuesday night for an 8-7 come-from-behind victory over the Southern Division in the 50th annual South Atlantic League All-Star Game.
An Appalachian Power Park crowd of 5,689 watched its hometown hero, West Virginia first baseman Calvin Anderson, collect the hit that scored the game-winning run.
"Even though we were losing, everybody had a smile on their face," said Anderson, who also won the Home Run Derby with 13 longballs before the game. "We were out there having fun. That's how it should be."
Delmarva right fielder Ronnie Welty started the bottom of the ninth with a single off Charleston closer Pat Venditte, the New York Yankees prospect who pitches with both hands.
Venditte struck out the next batter, Greensboro first baseman Ben Lasater, before facing Anderson in a right-hander vs. right-hander matchup.
Anderson lined Venditte's 2-2 delivery into center field for a single. Welty moved to third on the hit, then slid home in undramatic fashion when Venditte received Asheville center fielder Scotty Robinson's relay throw, but misfired on his toss to Lexington third baseman Ebert Rosario.
"I didn't think I would get put in that situation," said Anderson, who played in front of his father, former Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Fred Anderson. "But it was a storybook ending. It couldn't have ended any better than it did right there.
"Maybe a walk-off home run would have been better," he added. "But that's the only way. We won the game. That's all that matters."
Lake County second baseman Karexon Sanchez was named the South Atlantic League All-Star Game Most Valuable Player. He was 2-for-2 with two RBIs, two runs, two walks and a stolen base.
The Northern Division has won the past four midsummer classics.
"It's an All-Star Game and everybody wants to win," Lakewood manager and Northern Division skipper Dusty Wathan said. "Those guys were just aggressive at the plate. It was probably a tough time to pitch because they were so aggressive.
"It's a nice win for the North," he added. "We keep our streak alive. You hate to lose any game. If you can come away with a win, it's nice. It was a great atmosphere here. The people in Charleston did a great job. The players put a great product out there on the field. I hope the fans were entertained, because I know we were having a blast in the dugout."
The Southern Division took a 3-0 lead in the third. Bowling Green's Tim Beckham hit a one-out single off Lake County right-hander Alexander Perez. Greenville's Anthony Rizzo and Savannah's Sean Ratliff followed with back-to-back RBI doubles. Ratliff moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jordan Pacheco of Asheville.
Lexington right-hander Robert Bono allowed three consecutive singles to Greensboro's Paul Gran, West Virginia's Chase d'Arnaud and Lakewood's Anthony Gose to start the home half of the third. That loaded the bases for Sanchez, who delivered a sacrifice fly to score Gran.
Bowling Green right-hander Chris Andujar allowed a leadoff single to Gran in the fifth, then plunked d'Arnaud. A fielder's choice put Gose on first and he stole second on Andujar's 1-0 delivery to Sanchez, who drew a full-count walk five pitches later.
That loaded the bases for Lakewood catcher Travis d'Arnaud, who lined a two-RBI double down the right-field line to tie the score. An RBI single by Hickory's Mike Bianucci gave the Northern Division its first lead, 4-3.
In the top of the sixth, Hagerstown right-hander Marcos Frias issued a four-pitch leadoff walk to Ratliff, who moved to second on a stolen base, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored the game-tying run on a groundout by Tim Federowicz of Greenville.
Rome's Luis Sumoza followed with a single off Frias, who then surrendered a two-run homer to Augusta's Juan Perez as the Southern Division regained the lead, 6-4.
The Northern Division tied the score back up in the seventh. Gose reached on a bloop double, then scored on Rome catcher Jesus Sucre's two-base throwing error when he tried to steal third.
Sanchez singled off Savannah left-hander Robert Carson and advanced to second on the same play when Asheville center fielder Scott Robinson misplayed the ball. After stealing third, Sanchez scored on Lasater's groundout.
Hickory third baseman Erik Morrison drew a leadoff walk against Greenville left-hander Armando Zerpa in the eighth. Zerpa retired the next two batters, but Sanchez stroked a two-out double into the left-field corner to plate Morrison with the go-ahead run.
Lakewood right-hander Justin DeFratus served up a solo shot to Rosario to tie the score, 7-7, in the ninth and set the stage for Anderson's heroics.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.