Gaston hits All-Star walk-off shot

Breaks up pitchers' duel after striking out three times

(Mike Huffstatler/

By Jami Kiendra / Special to | June 23, 2009 10:10 PM ET

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. -- Jon Gaston turned frustration into jubilation with one swing of his bat.

Gaston had fanned in each of his first three plate appearances, accounting for three of the 25 strikeouts recorded at The Diamond.

But the two-time California League Player of the Week homered leading off the bottom of the 10th inning Tuesday to give the West Coast squad a 2-1 victory in the California/Carolina League All-Star Game.

Gaston, the lone representative of the Lancaster JetHawks, deposited the first pitch from Salem Red Sox left-hander Derrick Loop over the center-field fence before a capacity crowd of 6,689. He was named All-Star Most Valuable Player for his walk-off heroics.

Until Gaston's swing, the game belonged to the pitchers. Red Sox right-hander Ryne Miller dazzled the Cal League during his two-inning stint, fanning San Jose Giants slugger Buster Posey in the fourth, then retiring High Desert Mavericks shortstop Juan Diaz, Bakersfield Blaze second baseman Matthew Lawson and Inland Empire 66ers center fielder Trayvon Robinson on called third strikes in the fifth.

Posey had given the Cal League a quick 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. With two outs, Mavericks teammates Joe Dunigan and Alex Liddi singled to put runners on the corners before Posey delivered a base hit to right field.

Six pitchers protected the lead into the eighth. Cory Luebke of the hometown Lake Elsinore Storm, who leads the Cal League with a 2.34 ERA, worked around back-to-back singles in the first and struck out three over two innings.

Josh Collmenter of the Visalia Rawhide, Jeremy McBryde of the Storm, Alexander Torres of the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, Lake Elsinore's Wynn Pelzer and Inland Empire's Timothy Sexton each worked a scoreless frame while combining for six strikeouts.

The Carolina League finally drew even in the eighth against Storm right-hander Bryan Oland, who's second in the Cal League with 17 saves. Pedro Florimon Jr. of the Frederick Keys hit a leadoff triple to center field and dashed home with the tying run on an error by Lawson.

With one out, Salvador Sanchez of the Winston-Salem Dash reached on a miscue by Diaz, but Oland retired Keys first baseman Brandon Waring on a fly ball to left field and got Carolina League home run leader Cody Johnson of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans to bounce into a forceout.

The Cal League threatened in its half of the eighth as Lawson hit a one-out double off the right-field fence off R.J. Rodriguez of the Lynchburg Hillcats. A wild pitch put the go-ahead run at third, but Rodriguez struck out Robinson and Loop came on to strike out Giants slugger Roger Kieschnick.

Mike Moustakas and Sanchez hit two-out singles in the 10th for the Carolina League, but Visalia's Patrick McAnaney retired Waring on a fly ball to right, setting the stage for Gaston's heroics.

Jami Kiendra 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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