Fightin Phils, Oberste lead EL East to win

Alfaro-Hoskins-Cozens trio delivers early, Top Star plates four runs

Matt Oberste was named Top Star after amassing a four-hit, four-RBI night. (Patrick Cavey/

By John Wagner / Special to | July 13, 2016 11:39 PM

AKRON, Ohio -- The scoreboard showed the Eastern Division claimed a 10-2 victory over the Western Division in the 2016 Eastern League All-Star Game.

But the truth of the matter was the Reading Fightin Phils were the winners, dominating at the plate and on the mound in front of a sellout crowd of 8,054 fans at Canal Park. And so was the Binghamton Mets' Matt Oberste, who collected four hits and four RBIs to nab Top Star honors.

Reading's Jorge Alfaro, Rhys Hoskins, Dylan Cozens and Jesmuel Valentin combined to go 7-for-13 with a home run and two doubles, scoring six runs and driving in three. The Fightins' two pitchers -- Nick Pivetta and Hoby Milner -- combined for 1 2/3 hitless innings.

No wonder the team sports a 63-27 record, giving them the best winning percentage (.700) in the Minor Leagues.

"We were joking that maybe we should have put together an All-Star team from everybody else in the league and play Reading," said Akron manager Dave Wallace, who managed the Western Division squad. "It's a compliment to their whole organization.

"They have a lot of good players and they play the game the right way. I think the future is pretty bright in Philadelphia."

Alfaro, the Phillies' sixth-ranked prospect, went 3-for-3 with a run scored, while No. 22 Cozens drew a walk and scored twice. No. 19 Hoskins blasted a three-run homer in the first inning, while Valentin finished 3-for-5 with two runs scored.

Video: Reading's Alfaro notches third single of game

"To be able to put those guys in the lineup every night, instead of just in an All-Star Game, is pretty special," said Reading manager Dusty Wathan, who also managed the Eastern League squad. "It's been an enjoyable year so far."

The Reading contingent got the East on the board first off Richmond starter Tyler Beede. Alfaro roped a single to right field, Cozens walked and Hoskins promptly pounded a 1-0 pitch over the left-field fence.

Hoskins, who leads the circuit in homers with 25, is no stranger to belting them in Canal Park. He has four in eight games against the RubberDucks this season, including two regular-season blasts on their turf.

"The guys in the middle of our lineup I thought deserved to be in the middle of the lineup [in this game], and they proved it in the first inning," Wathan said. "It was nice to see all of our guys represent themselves well in this game."

In the fourth, Trenton's Dustin Fowler lined a single off Tyler Eppler of Altoona, Valentin singled Fowler to third and Oberste brought both runners home with a double into the gap in left-center.

The West got on the board in the fourth. Garabez Rosa of Bowie belted a 2-2 pitch from Binghamton's Tyler Pill over the fence in left-center.

But the East kept scoring runs, adding two more in the fifth off Altoona lefty Jared Lakind. Trenton's Tyler Wade singled and Alfaro followed with a single. Cozens hit into a fielder's choice that retired Alfaro at second, but sent Wade to third. Cozens stole second and Lakind's wild pitch plated Wade and sent Cozens to third. Then New Hampshire's Rowdy Tellez brought him in with a single.

Harrisburg's Neftali Soto lofted a long solo shot to right-center off Jonathan Holder of Trenton in the fifth for the West.

But in the eighth, Valentin knocked a two-out double to center that Oberste followed with an RBI single.

Video: Binghamton's Oberste doubles in two in fourth

The East added two runs off Akron's J.P. Feyereisen in the ninth. Portland's Jake Romanski doubled, took third on a single by Dillon Thomas of Hartford and scored on an infield single by Hartford's Pat Valaika. Then Oberste smashed a hard liner off the glove of Richmond third baseman Ryder Jones for a single that brought home Thomas.

"I just came out here looking to have fun and hit the ball hard," Oberste said. "The one I didn't get a hit was where I struck out, but I thought I had a good at-bat. My first at-bat was a slow roller down the line for a hit, and I'll take it. Then I had some pretty good swings the rest of the way."

Video: Binghamton's Oberste drives in run with fourth hit

The Eastern Division squad finished with 20 hits by 11 different players. But the postgame talk centered on the impressive performance of the Fightin' Phils.

"Their whole team was pretty much here," Oberste said. "After the first inning, we were joking that the score should be Reading 3, Western Division 0. We had a pretty good laugh about that."

John Wagner 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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