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Campbell plays EL All-Star hero07/11/2012 11:43 PM ET
By David Driver / Special to MLB.com
READING, Pa. -- Eric Campbell hit .341 over the final 10 games of the first half of the season and is batting .378 in July for the Binghamton Mets. He carried that momentum into the final at-bat of the Eastern League All-Star Game.
Campbell singled past third baseman Buck Britton with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning Wednesday night, scoring Troy Hanzawa and giving the Eastern Division All-Stars a 5-4 win over the Western Division in front of 9,477 fans at First Energy Stadium.
"I hit a 3-1 fastball," said Campbell, who was named MVP. "[Harrisburg's Hector Nelo] fell behind in the count and I wanted to get a fastball."
After being interviewed on the field, Campbell got a face full of shaving cream from teammate Bryce Brentz of the Portland Sea Dogs.
"This has been so much fun," Campbell said. "This is a great place to play Minor League baseball."
Reading skipper Dusty Wathan, who managed the winners, has recorded two walk-off All-Star victories in the Minors. While managing Class A Lakewood in 2009, he guided the North Division past the South in the South Atlantic League Midseason Classic. He knew Wednesday's game would end after nine innings, no matter what happened in his team's last at-bat.
"In the words of George Brett, it is like kissing your sister," Wathan said of a possible tie. "It is huge for (Campbell) to come up with a hit like that."
With two outs in the ninth, Hanzawa fouled off several pitches from Nelo before drawing a walk. Kevin Mahoney of the Trenton Thunder followed with a single to right, sending Hanzawa to third. Campbell worked the count to 3-1 before hitting a ground ball into left field as New Hampshire's Mike McDade threw up his arms in the on-deck circle and raced to greet Campbell at first.
"We came up with the big hits," said McDade, who went 4-for-4 with two RBIs.
The win went to New Britain's Daniel Turpen, who retired Britton for the final out in the top of the ninth.
"It was pretty exciting. It was impressive to be that patient in a tight game," Turpen said of the two-out at-bats by Hanzawa, Mahoney and Campbell.
After slugging a two-run homer in the fourth, Erie's Jordan Lennerton lifted the West into a 4-4 tie with a sacrifice fly in the sixth. His drive to center field scored Bowie's Jonathan Schoop, who led off with a single and took third on a base hit by Altoona's Brock Holt.
"Obviously, we would have liked to win," Lennerton said. "But we wanted to go out there and have fun and put on a good show for the fans."
"It did not go our way," added Britton, who guessed he came within about five feet of gloving Campbell's walk-off hit.
McDade was involved in all of the East's first four runs. He delivered an RBI double in the first, a run-scoring single in the third and he was credited with another base hit when catcher Ramon Cabrera dropped a popup along the first-base line. Binghamton's Jefry Marte followed with a sacrifice fly to score Campbell, who doubled with one out, to give the East a 4-3 lead.
McDade also led off the eighth with a bloop single off Richmond's Brett Bochy, the son of Giants' manager Bruce Bochy. But McDade was doubled up at second after Harrisburg center fielder Eury Perez made a sliding catch of a sinking liner by Reading's Leandro Castro.
Erie's Niuman Romero led off the fourth for the Western Division with a single off New Hampshire right-hander Yohan Pino and Lennerton smacked a two-run homer to forge a 3-3 tie.
Bowie's Zach Clark, pitching on his 29th birthday, came on in the third for the West and allowed the RBI single to McDade. Reading's Darin Ruf scored on a fielder's choice by New Hampshire's Mark Sobolewski, but Clark got out of the inning by retiring Brentz on a forceout.
Harrisburg outfielder Chris Rahl, who won Tuesday's Home Run Derby, tied the game at 1-1 by singling home Akron's Thomas Neal in the second.
The Eastern All-Stars grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first when McDade doubled home New Hampshire's Ryan Goins.
"We knew we were not going 10 [innings]," Campbell said. "The two guys in front of me had incredible at-bats. It has been unbelievable. You can't ask for anything more."