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Hendriks sets the tone in IL All-Star win

With eye on Majors, Blue Jays farmhand pitches two scoreless innings
July 16, 2014

DURHAM, N.C. -- Liam Hendriks is taking every opportunity that he comes along to show he's ready for a return to the Major Leagues. A starting assignment in the Triple-A All-Star Game on Wednesday night was his latest platform.

Hendriks struck out four batters in two scoreless innings as the International League topped the Pacific Coast League, 7-3, before a crowd of 10,274 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

"I'm giving it all I've got getting back up there," said the Buffalo Bisons right-hander, who threw 25 pitches. "I just got ahead, a lot of first-pitch strikes and making them uncomfortable."

Hendriks was named the IL's Top Star. The offense took care of the rest.

Best of all for IL manager Charlie Montoyo of Durham is that he used his entire roster. He brought on Bulls right-hander Merrill Kelly to notch the final out.

"I got everybody in and we won. Worked great," Montoyo said. "Kelly ended up the game. It was perfect."

Designated hitter Wilson Betemit of the host Bulls drove in two runs with a two-out single off the glove of Reno first baseman Mike Jacobs in the first inning. Syracuse Chiefs catcher Jhonatan Solano pushed the lead to 4-0 with a two-run homer in the second.

Pacific Coast League starter Elih Villanueva of New Orleans was charged with four runs -- two earned -- on four hits and two walks with a strikeout in 1 2/3 innings.

The IL strung together four hits in the sixth, with Louisville's Felix Perez roping a two-run triple and Syracuse's Steven Souza belting an RBI double. Perez added a double in the eighth.

Albuquerque outfielder Joc Pederson had gotten the PCL on the board in the top of the sixth with a solo homer off Rochester's A.J. Achter, driving a fastball deep into the right-field seats. At 22, the Dodgers' No. 2 prospect was the game's youngest participant.

"Age really doesn't matter," Pederson said. "It feels good. It's too bad it doesn't count for the season. I tried to soak in the experience."

Tacoma shortstop Chris Taylor was the offensive standout on the PCL side, going 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles to earn Top Star honors on his team.

"We haven't seen these pitchers before, so it's tough," said Taylor, who won an Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in the same ballpark when he played for the University of Virginia. "You don't know much about them. But I love this park."

The PCL added a run in the eighth on an RBI single by Colorado's Ben Paulsen, but Souza made a diving catch in right field to leave a runner in scoring position.

Kelly liked finishing the game in his home stadium and appreciated that his manager made it work out.

"I feel in a situation like this, he did a good job at it," Kelly said. "It's always fun. I don't really pitch in these situations during the year."

The IL has a 10-7 lead under the current Triple-A All-Star format.

Bob Sutton is a contributor to