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Hurlers lead West to EL All-Star win

Beckman notches victory as nine pitchers combine for 12 strikeouts
July 16, 2014

ALTOONA, Pa. -- Normally All-Star Games are high-scoring affairs due to the amount of offensive power available in both lineups.

But the Western's squad rotation made sure it wasn't a typical midsummer classic. On the strength of 12 strikeouts, the Western squad topped East, 5-2, in the Eastern League All-Star Game before 6,055 fans on a calm, clear Wednesday night at Peoples Natural Gas Field, the home of the Altoona Curve

"I think we were pounding the zone and letting the defense make the plays," said Curve pitcher Ryan Beckman, who got the win.

The Western squad allowed just seven hits using nine of its 11 available pitchers. Beckman, Oliver Drake (Bowie), Colin Bates (Harrisburg) and Kenn Kasparek (Altoona) fanned two apiece in their respective innings and only Tim Berry (Bowie) failed to record a strikeout for the Western team.

Kasparek earned the save after making the team in part because Curve teammate Adrian Sampson couldn't appear in the game.

"Being the hometown team ... being such good friends and relief pitchers and having the similar role, it's kind of cool," Kasparek said of Beckman. "For me to come in and get the save a couple of innings later, it was pretty neat. It's something special that we will probably have to hang on to forever."

New Hampshire's Dustin Antolin got the loss, although the rest of the Eastern pitching squad struck out 11.

The East got on the board first when Portland's Derrik Gibson blasted a solo shot to left field providing the night's first runs. Gibson had just three home runs entering the All-Star break.

The Western squad quickly answered back. Altoona's Alen Hanson got aboard on a fielding error by first baseman Kennys Vargas. Harrisburg's Michael Taylor smoked a ground ball to Gibson at short. Gibson made the play, but Vargas couldn't hold on to it, allowing Hanson to cross the plate.

The Eastern squad threatened in the fifth when Binghamton's Kyle Johnson and Carlos Alonso of Reading knocked back-to-back singles. The duo stole second and third respectively, but Beckman struck out Gibson and Sea Dogs teammate Sean Coyle and then got Ben Gable of Trenton to fly out to center.

In the bottom of the frame, Antolin walked Hanson and gave up a single to Altoona's Willy Garcia. With two outs, he was a strike away from whiffing Francisco Lindor, but walked the Akron shortstop and Erie's Steven Moya belted a grand slam down the right field line. The league's leading home run hitter (with 22 at the break) earned All-Star Game MVP honors for that shot.

"I'd be lying to you if I said I knew when Moya was batting and he hit the bomb, that I might snake this 'W'," Beckman said. "That was awesome. It was even better that Kenn got the save. That was pretty cool."

The Eastern squad added one more run late in the eighth when Gibson tripled to center and Jon Berti (New Hampshire) plated him with a groundout to the pitcher.

It was the second win for the Western Division in as many years.

Darian Somers is a contributor to