WAPPINGERS FALLS, N.Y. -- On Monday night, Bucky Dent spoke to all the players who would be participating in the New York-Penn League All-Star Game. His message was clear: grind it out and hang tough. That's what baseball is all about.
The speech clearly struck a chord with the American League All-Stars.
By the fourth inning, the AL had fallen behind, 4-0, to the National League affiliates. But they hung tough and grinded it out, rallying for three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning and a 6-4 victory in the third annual Midsummer Classic.
Yamaico Navarro of the Lowell Spinners led off the eighth with a single off Tri-City's Jason Dominguez and Aberdeen's Joseph Nowicki followed with a one-out single that sent Navarro to third. Casper Wells of the Oneonta Tigers followed with a sacrifice fly that tied the game, 4-4.
Auburn's Manny Rodriguez singled, setting the stage for Oneonta's Chris Carlson, who was 0-for-2 with a strikeout. But he hung in there,worked the count to 3-0 and sent the next pitch into left field for an RBI single.
"I was just thinking, 'Get a good pitch to hit, take a good swing,'" said Carlson who was participating in his first All-Star Game. "Luckily, I got in a count where I knew a fastball was coming and got a good swing on it."
Carlson was named Player of the Game.
"I didn't know, but Bucky Dent only had 43 home runs. But that one home run against the Red Sox, everyone remembers. Special things happen when you're at the right place at the right time. I'm just thrilled to be here."
The AL tacked on a run before the inning was over and Oneonta closer Noah Krol shut the door on the NL in the ninth. Lowell's Felix Ventura (1-0) picked up the win by pitching a scoreless eighth inning, while Dominguez (0-1) took the loss.
"You're surrounding yourself on the field with the best of the best in the league and you see a lot of good things," said AL manager Dennis Holmberg of the Auburn Doubledays. "The guys that started, we just couldn't kind of get it going. It was the guys that came in late."
Among the key AL contributors were Nowicki, who was 2-for-2 with two runs scored, and Rodriguez, who went 1-for-1 with an RBI and a run scored.
Jamestown's Garrett Parcell, who struck out two in a perfect seventh for the NL, was named Pitcher of the Game. It was extra special for Parcell, who had never been to an All-Star Game and is coming back from Tommy John surgery.
"It's awesome," he said. "I never expected it. I was just trying to relax, throw strikes and keep the ball down."
The NL jumped on AL starter Guillermo Moscoso of the Oneonta Tigers in the opening inning. After Vermont's Aaron Seuss singled and Brooklyn's Jason Jacobs walked, Justin Byler of the State College Spikes doubled them home for a 2-0 cushion.
The NL added a run in the second off Aberdeen's Zachary Jevne, who allowed a leadoff single to Brooklyn's Matt Bouchard. After a fielder's choice by Keanon Simon of State College, Seuss singled again and Jevne uncorked a wild pitch to make it 3-0.
Seuss was 3-for-3 with a run scored, while Byler went 2-for-5 with two RBIs.
The NL's final run came in the fourth, when Vermont's Bill Rhinehart singled home Simon.
National League pitchers were dominant through three innings. Adrian Alaniz of the Lake Monsters and Dylan Owen of the Cyclones combined for three scoreless frames.
The AL got on the board in the fourth with a pair of unearned runs off ERA leader and Vermont ace Glenn Gibson. In the sixth, Nowicki stroked a leadoff double, moved on up Wells' fly ball and scored on Rodriguez's sacrifice fly.
The play of the night belonged to Rodriguez. In the top of the sixth, he snared home run derby champion Torre Langley's hard liner to first, then stepped on the bag to complete an unassisted double play.
In the end, however, the game wasn't about spectacular catches or home runs. It was the game that Bucky Dent described -- grind it out and hang in there.
"At the start of the game, I'd never thought it'd be possible," Carlson said. "That's the way the game is."