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Huck powers AL to comeback win08/13/2013 7:23 PM ET
By Craig Forde / Special to MiLB.com
NORWICH, Conn. -- In the den of the Tigers, sometimes things get wild.
Ryan Huck's leadoff homer sparked a ninth-inning comeback as the American League posted a 4-3 walk-off win over the National League at the ninth annual New York-Penn League All-Star Game before 4,774 at Dodd Stadium.
"That was a blast," said Brent Powers, the AL's starting pitcher and Huck's teammate with the Vermont Lake Monsters. "I kept telling him, 'Hey, you've got the MVP locked up if you hit one out,' half-joking, and he did it."
"I was looking for a fastball early and ended up getting behind in the count a little bit," said Huck, who received the Top Star Award. "I was just trying to battle up and ended up getting a hanging curveball that I was able to put over the wall."
Ben Verlander of the host Connecticut Tigers followed with a single, then moved to second when a chopper to shortstop by Mahoning Valley's Claudio Bautista was misplayed. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch, but Verlander was gunned down at the plate by Williamsport third baseman Zach Green, who was drawn in on Staten Island's Bubba Jones.
With runners at the corners and one out, Hudson Valley's Oscar Hernandez hit a grounder deep in the hole at shortstop and beat the relay throw to first as Bautista raced home with the winning run.
"It was awesome," Jones said. "In general, just to be involved in the All-Star Game festivities is awesome, but to have the 'W' on our side and win it like that is pretty much perfect. It's fun."
The game cruised through seven innings as a pitchers' showcase, with the teams combining for three runs.
The NL took a 3-2 lead in the eighth as Staten Island's Stefan Lopez ran into some control problems. Brooklyn's L.J. Mazzilli -- a Greenwich, Conn., native -- reached on an error and made it around the bases on three wild pitches to score the tying run before Batavia's Felix Munoz singled home Jamestown's Harold Ramirez.
In the top of the ninth, the NL threatened to add some insurance after Jamestown's Michael Fransoso doubled to put runners on second and third with one out. Jammers teammate Jeff Roy launched a missile that was grabbed by Bautista, who doubled Fransoso off second base.
Four pitches later, Huck sent a ball deep over the left-field wall to tie the game back up.
"I was afraid it might have been too much on a line," he said. "I knew I got quite a bit of it. It's one of those things that you always dream about doing -- hitting a big home run -- and to be able to do it in my first All-Star Game is pretty special."
Connecticut closer Zac Reininger picked up the win after striking out one in the ninth.
"It's a great feeling," he said. "People went crazy. We knew [Huck's home run] was gone right away. It was a bomb."
In the losing effort, the NL yielded only six hits and a walk while combining for 11 batters.
American League pitching gave up eight hits, with the State College duo of Jimmy Bosco and Steven Ramos picking up two apiece.
The win gave the AL a 5-4 advantage in the all-time series.