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Bourquin's blast carries East to win06/23/2009 11:48 PM ET
By Matthew Lindner / Special to MLB.com
CLINTON, Iowa -- Ronnie Bourquin of the West Michigan Whitecaps is not known for his ability to hit the ball out of the park.
"I'm not a guy that usually hits a lot of home runs, I'm usually a gap to gap guy and I've come close on a lot of balls that I've hit," he said.
But Bourquin's big bat keyed a four-run fourth inning Tuesday that carried the East Division to a 6-3 victory over the West in the 45th Midwest League All-Star Game.
In a game that was billed as the bats of the East against the arms of the West, the hitters brought the lumber early. Great Lakes shortstop Dee Gordon beat out a fielder's choice in the third, stole second and advanced to third on a ground out before Loons teammate Jaime Pedroza drove him home with an opposite-field double to give the East a 1-0 lead.
But it was the fourth that proved to be the decisive inning. It started off innocently enough with consecutive one-out singles from Kyler Burke of the Peoria Chiefs, Sawyer Carroll of the Fort Wayne TinCaps and Tony Delmonico of the Loons.
With the East leading, 2-0, Bourquin stepped to the plate with men at the corners.
"[I was] just looking for something up there that I could drive to the outfield and get that runner in," he said. "He threw me a changeup and I was able to get a pretty good swing on it."
Bourquin took a 3-1 offering from Jamie Richmond of the Kane County Cougars and deposited it into the Coors Light Pavilion beyond left field to make it 5-0.
The West didn't go down without a fight.
Kane County's Steve Kleen lead off the bottom of the fourth by taking a 3-1 offering from Great Lakes' Josh Walter over the left field fence to slice the margin to 5-1. Walter retired the next two batters before running into more trouble.
Denny Almonte of the host Clinton LumberKings knocked a broken-bat single to center to keep the inning alive, then trotted home one batter later as Nick Francis of the Burlington Bees doubled off Carroll's glove in left-center.
The teams traded runs in the seventh. In the top half, West Michigan's Brandon Douglas stroked a one-out double off Burlington's Barry Bowden. Fort Wayne's James Darnell went the opposite way for another double that extended the East's lead to 6-2.
The West answered in the bottom half. Francis greeted West Michigan's Tyler Stohr with a double to left-center and Terry Serrano walked on a full count. Stohr struck out Brett Lawrie of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers before being lifted for South Bend Silver Hawks left-hander Bayron Zepeda.
The West executed the hit-and-run to perfection, sending both Francis and Serrano. Nate Tenbrink hit a soft tapper back to the mound, Francis never stopped and beat the throw home from Peoria first baseman Rebel Riedling to get the West back within three.
While it was Bouquin's blast in the fourth that did the most damage, Carroll was named the Star of Stars. He was perfect at the plate, going 4-for-4 with two stolen bases and a run scored. He came into the game as one of the league's hottest hitters with a .424 average in his last 10 games.
"I felt good the past few games coming in. I just wanted to carry it over, find some pitches to hit and I did that," Carroll said.
As for what it was like to be named the Star of Stars in his first professional All-Star Game, he said, "It's just a lot of fun, man. I really don't have a whole lot of words for it right now.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.