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Threshers pitch North to All-Star win06/18/2011 11:07 PM ET
By Guy Curtright / Special to MLB.com
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Florida State All-Star Game showed why the Clearwater Threshers pitching rotation has been drawing so much attention this season.
Four of the Threshers' five starters made the North Division squad. Each pitched an inning; none allowed a baserunner.
The North All-Stars posted a 5-3 victory over the South, and the 5,134 fans at Bright House Field couldn't have been surprised with what they saw from the Clearwater pitchers. They've seen it all year.
"We're always pushing to one-up each other," winning pitcher Trevor May said. "But I don't know who you would say was the best tonight."
Jon Pettibone started and was followed by Jarred Cosart in third inning, May in the fifth and Julio Rodriguez in the seventh. The results were all the same.
"We've got a lot of guys who can get the job done," May said. "It's amazing to get four starters in the All-Star Game. To have them all pitch a perfect inning is phenomenal."
Bradenton Marauders first baseman Aaron Baker of the South All-Stars won the Top Star Award, thanks to a two-run homer and a pair of walks. But none of his four trips to the plate came with a Thresher on the mound.
"They have some great arms. I didn't mind not having to face them," Baker said. "But there are a lot of good pitchers in this league."
The South, which never led, totaled six hits, all of them in the fourth and ninth innings. The North had 10 hits, two each by Rob Lyerly of the Tampa Yankees and Mike Brenly of the Daytona Cubs. Greg Sexton of the Charlotte Stone Crabs had a pair of hits for the South.
"I was pumped," said Lyerly, Tampa's only All-Star representative. "It was a lot of fun."
After Pettibone set down the South in order to start the game, the crowd got some early excitement from the North hitters. Lyerly, who later doubled, singled with two outs. A.J. Jimenez of the Dunedin Blue Jays followed with a drive that caromed oddly off the center-field fence. St. Lucie's Matt den Dekker couldn't pick up the ball cleanly after chasing it down and Jimenez came all the way around, just beating the throw.
Instead of an inside-the-park home run, Jimenez was credited with a triple and den Dekker was charged with an error as the North took a 2-0 lead.
The South finally got a hit when Bradenton's Ramon Cabrera led off the fourth with a single and Baker hit the first pitch from Daytona's Aaron Kurcz over the right-center field fence.
"It was a changeup," Baker said. "I don't think it was where he wanted it."
The North quickly regained the lead, scoring twice in the fifth against St. Lucie's Scott Moviel. Matt Cerda, who replaced Lyerly at third base, had a tie-breaking double and scored on a single by Brenly, his Cubs teammate.
The North got an insurance run in the eighth as Home Run Derby runnerup Brad Glenn of Dunedin doubled and scored on a single by Julio Rodriguez of the Lakeland Flying Tigers.
The South scored in the ninth on a sacrifice fly by Charlotte's Brett Nommensen, but Dunedin's Wes Etheridge, who leads the league with 23 saves, came in with the tying run at the plate and got Charlotte's Tyler Bortnick to bounce into a game-ending forceout.
South hitters struck out 11 times, with Dunedin's Deck McGuire and Lakeland's Kenny Faulk each fanning three in an inning.
It was a night when pitching took center stage, and Clearwater hurlers were the headliners.