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California fells Carolina again

Parker hits go-ahead single; Perez, Tejeda named top stars
June 22, 2010
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- The California League, known for its hitting prowess, used dominating pitching and a timely offensive break to win its 15th annual All-Star Game against the Carolina League on Tuesday night.

Stockton third baseman Stephen Parker lined the decisive single off the glove of Frederick shortstop Greg Miclat with two down in the ninth inning, giving the California League a 4-3 win and back-to-back victories for the first time in the 15-year rivalry between Class A Advanced leagues.

"It was a fastball that caught a little bit of the plate, and I saw it well," Parker said. "I was fortunate enough to hit it hard and it was a tough play for the shortstop. Luckily, it skipped off his glove, the run scored and we won the ballgame."

After getting a ground ball for the first out in the California League ninth, Frederick right-hander Jose Duran yielded a double to left-center field by High Desert's Rick Poythress. Duran, who took the loss, struck out Bakersfield catcher Jose Felix and then was replaced by Winston-Salem reliever Gregory Infante.

Infante walked Lake Elsinore's Drew Cumberland before Parker lined a ball up the middle. The ball veered slightly toward center field, caromed off Miclat's mitt and bounded into short center as Poythress scored the eventual game-winner.

"It was a dodger. He hit the bullet ... I think it knuckled to Miclat," said Myrtle Beach manager Rocket Wheeler, who piloted the Carolina League All-Stars. "It's too bad."

San Jose's Juan Perez, who doubled in the first and scored on an error and then hit a two-run homer in the third, was named the Major League Baseball Advanced Media Top Star for the winning team. Salem second baseman Oscar Tejeda, who hit a solo shot in the fourth, took the honors for the Carolina League.

"It's unbelievable. It's like a dream come true," said Perez, a native of the Dominican Republic whose mother drove from nearby Raleigh, N.C., to see her son play for the first time as a professional.

The crowd of 6,599 -- an all-time single-game record at BB&T Coastal Field -- didn't get much in the way of offense for long stretches as pitching dominated the game. Cal League manager Brian Harper of San Jose used nine pitchers and ran one power arm after another at the Carolina League hitters.

"You see a different pitcher every at-bat," Harper said, explaining his strategy. "You don't get into a rhythm, you don't get a feel for what the pitchers are doing. And you're seeing some of the best pitchers in both leagues."

The ploy worked as the Carolina League mustered only an infield single by Salem catcher Ryan Lavarnway over the first three innings as Cal League arms took command.

"They shut the door on them," Parker said. "We had a great staff and all these guys can throw well. ... Facing a new pitcher every inning is hard on anybody."

Visalia's Brian Woodall worked a scoreless eighth for the victory. Lake Elsinore closer Brad Brach got the save, despite allowing Miclat's two-out single in the ninth. Winston-Salem center fielder Justin Greene skied a fly ball deep to center for the game's final out.

The Cal League scored an unearned run in the first. Perez hit a leadoff double, moved to third on a fly ball to center by Rancho Cucamonga's Alexi Amarista and scored when Greene's throw to third bounced off Perez and into foul territory.

In the third, Auer singled to center with one down and Perez crushed a 1-0 fastball from Salem's Brock Huntzinger over the stands down the left-field line for a 3-0 lead.

"I wanted to take some pitches so Auer could steal the bag and I can get a base hit and get him in," Perez said. "The second pitch, I saw a good pitch to hit and it ended up being a home run."

Tejeda broke up the shutout in the fourth, greeting San Jose's Justin Fitzgerald with a leadoff line-drive homer to left.

The Carolina League tied the game, 3-3, in the seventh against Inland Empire right-hander Nathan Eovaldi. Winston-Salem's Seth Loman singled deep in the hole at short, the Dash's Jon Gilmore lined a one-out single to right and Miclat hit a slow roller to second for an infield hit that loaded the bases.

Greene flied deep to center to plate Loman and Frederick's Ronnie Welty hit a game-tying RBI single to left.

"If you can jump on the pitcher and get a run or two early, most times they hold up," said Wheeler. "We didn't do that."

Pete Kerzel is a contributor to