Carolina bats best Cal speed in ASG

Salem's Shaw, Bakersfield's Hamilton pick up MVP honors

By Chris Gigley / Special to | June 19, 2012 7:06 PM

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- In a game that matched contrasting styles of play, the Carolina League evened its All-Star Game record against the California League with a 9-1 victory Tuesday night at BB&T Ballpark. In 16 games, the two leagues are deadlocked at 7-7-2.

"This was definitely a contest, speed against power," said Winston-Salem skipper Tommy Thompson, who managed the Carolina League. "I'd say we had more power bats and power arms tonight."

Cal League hitters stole seven bases to constantly put pressure on the Carolina League pitchers. But the latter pounded out 10 hits, six of them for extra bases. One of them was Salem first baseman Travis Shaw's two-run shot to left field in the fifth inning. It was enough to earn him MVP honors for the Carolina League side.

"I got a good fastball I could handle and just swung as hard as I could," said Shaw, who downplayed his part in his team's victory. "Honestly, it just felt great to come out here and compete and get the win."

The Cal League scored in the first inning almost solely on the strength of shortstop Billy Hamilton, who took the MVP award for the squad. After beating out a drag bunt for an infield hit, Bakersfield's fleet-footed shortstop stole second and third. He scampered home on right fielder George Springer's groundout to second.

"I knew I got a good jump as soon as I left first," said Hamilton of his first steal. "I didn't even know it was a pitchout until I got back to the dugout and someone told me."

The Carolina League got the run back in the third when Potomac catcher Michael Freitas walked and went to third on Keys third baseman Ty Kelly's double. Salem center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., hit a short chopper to Visalia right-hander Andrew Chafin, who opted to throw to first. Freitas scored on the play.

The home team got three more in the fourth on a run-scoring single by Mudcats designated hitter Jeremie Tice and a double by Freitas. An inning later, Shaw hit his home run to put the hosts up 6-1.

Kelly's second double came in the sixth and plated Lynchburg second baseman Tommy La Stella to make the score 7-1. Consecutive doubles by Winston-Salem outfielder Michael Earley and Hillcats first baseman Chris Garcia gave the Carolina League another run. Garcia went on to score from third on a wild pitch, giving his team a 9-1 lead in the seventh.

Despite mustering just four hits, the Cal League had chances to score. In the fifth, Lake Elsinore center fielder Rico Noel singled and stole both second and third with one out. But neither Hamilton nor Visalia infielder Chris Owings could drive him in.

"I didn't really mind that they stole a lot of bases on us," said Thompson. "We knew that would happen, particularly with Hamilton. We saw him at Spring Training. He's a man among boys at this level. Except for him, none of those base-stealers scored, and that's the bottom line."

In the seventh, Noel hit a flare to short-left center and hustled to second as three Carolina League fielders converged on the ball. But he didn't score as Rancho Cucamonga outfielder Leon Landry popped out to third and Hamilton struck out.

The Cal League got back-to-back hits with two outs in the eighth, a single by Stockton first baseman Miles Head and a double by High Desert third baseman Brad Miller. But Myrtle Beach right-hander Randy Henry came back to strike out Visalia catcher Raywilly Gomez.

Carolina right-hander Shawn Armstrong came on in the ninth, and punctuated the evening with two quick strikeouts. Potomac's Rob Wort finished the job, surrendering a single to Landry before striking out Hamilton to end the game.

Chris Gigley is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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