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Sally League ASG ends in 5-5 tie

Slugfest gives way to pitchers' duel in 10-inning contest
June 23, 2010
What started as a slugfest in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game on Tuesday turned into a pitchers' duel before eventually ending in a 5-5 tie.

The Southern Division matched the Northern Division run for run over a 10-inning span at Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C.

"It's the old adage of kissing your sister," said Augusta GreenJackets skipper Dave Machemer, who managed the Southern Division squad. "Nobody ends up a loser. There was a lot of camaraderie in the clubhouse and everyone had a great time."

South center fielder Eliezer Mesa (Asheville) was named the star of the game after finishing 3-for-5 with a double, two RBIs, a run scored and a stolen base.

"He looked good for us," Machemer said of the Colorado Rockies' prospect. "He got a big double and drove in a few runs. He's electric out there in center. He started hitting from the first day of the season and he hasn't stopped since -- quite a player."

The North jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first inning. After Hickory's Miguel Velazquez ripped a grounder off of South third baseman Chris Dominguez (Augusta), catcher Kyle Skipworth (Greensboro) went deep to give the North a 2-0 lead.

"He just squared it up," said Hickory manager Bill Richardson, who helmed the North. "He bashed in the ball. It was a laser. Getting to know that kid was a real joy."

North starter Robert Ross (Hickory) allowed two hits, but struck out the side in the bottom of the first. Daniel Rosenbaum (Hagerstown) replaced him to begin the second inning and did not fare as well.

South left fielder Juan Lagares doubled and Rosenbaum issued two walks before Mesa tied the game with his two-bagger. Savannah shortstop Wilmer Flores hit the third double of the inning to give the South a 4-2 lead.

The North responded in the top of the third after South pitcher Mark Cohoon (Savannah) was replaced by Asheville's Alan DeRatt. The North's Jonathan Villar (Lakewood) homered to left-center field before Crawdads center fielder Miguel Velazquez scored to tie the game, 4-4.

"I wanted to see Villar and (pitcher Josh) Zeid because we haven't played Lakewood," Richardson said. "Villar was silky smooth and he hit an opposite field home run, so that was great."

The North recaptured the lead in the fourth when Daniel Wagner (Kannapolis) scored on a throwing error by Lexington second baseman Jose Altuve.

Altuve made up for his blunder in the bottom half of the inning when his sacrifice plated Charleston's Zoilo Almonte.

From there, the pitchers took over.

Savannah's Brandon Moore, Augusta's Jose Casilla, Greenville's Dennis Neuman and Asheville's Sheng-An Kuo combined for eight strikeouts over four scoreless innings of relief for the South.

"Every guy out there was tough," said Machemer of his bullpen. "Castillo had a 1-2-3 inning. Neuman and Kuo were unhittable."

The North's bullpen was effective as well.

Robert Erlin, Trevor Hurley and Matt Thompson -- all of Hickory, Kannapolis' Joe Serafin and Zeid combined for eight strikeouts over five innings of relief for the North.

The Northern Division's first-half runner-up, Hickory had six All-Star selections as did Southern Division first-half champion Savannah.

"The team that beat us out of the playoffs," Machemer said of the Sand Gnats' representatives. "They were a class act. We played them so many times in the first half, so it was almost like they were on my club. We see a lot of them, and they're good players and they're good people."

The All-Star festivities included a Home Run Derby won by Dominguez, a BMW driving school for the players and a visit to a local hospital.

"The Sally League was represented really well," Richardson said. "This was my first All-Star experience and the whole town of Greenville outdid themselves. Really a great job."

Alex Raskin is a contributor to