LEXINGTON, Kentucky -- Second baseman Max Schrock had never played a game at Whitaker Bank Ballpark until Tuesday night's South Atlantic League All-Star Game.
Now he can't wait to play here again after delivering two RBI hits to lead the North Division to a 2-1 victory over the South in a game that was dominated by pitching -- the two teams had a combined 22 strikeouts. Both teams used 11 pitchers.
The 13th-round Washington pick drove in the first run with with a double to right field and his second with a single to left in the fifth before exiting the game.
"This atmosphere was awesome," Schrock said. "It was a good night to play and I don't know how big the crowd was, but it was loud and great."
After several hard downpours early in the afternoon, it turned into a near perfect night for baseball as 8,126 fans turned out for the game that started about 43 minutes late due to the afternoon weather.
The Suns second baseman came into the game hitting .372 in his last 10 games and .327 overall with 33 RBIs.
"I've been swinging well and just wanted to keep doing that," said Schrock, who was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
The North got to South starter P.J. Conlon, who came into the game with an 8-1 record and an 1.84 ERA for Columbia, in the first inning. Schrock's Hagerstown teammate Victor Robles singled up the middle, stole second and scored on the MVP's opposite-field double. Conlon regrouped to get the next three outs, including a strikeout of Lakewood's Jose Pujols to end the inning.
"I had two strikes and was just looking for a pitch to hit. I knew we had a quick runner on second and if I just got a hit, he would score," Schrock said.
The South, who had five hits all game, mounted its first scoring threat in the fourth when Asheville's Brian Mundell and Greenville's Josh Ockimey collected one-out singles off Hagerstown's Jefry Rodriguez. However, he struck out Colorado's top prospect Brendan Rodgers and induced Asheville's Sam Hilliard to ground to first to end the inning.
Hickory's Yeyson Yrizarri and West Virginia's Daniel Arribas opened the fifth with singles for the North. Arribas was thrown out stealing second and Charleston's Christian Morris struck out Robles, but Schrock picked up his second RBI with a soft line-drive single.
"That was a 2-0 pitch and I was looking for something to drive," he said. "I saw it was up and I got a good swing. I didn't exactly drive it, but it was good enough."
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Greenville's Mitchell Gunsolus collected one-out double for the South in the fifth, but North pitcher Erik Swanson of Hickory struck out Augusta's Matt Winn and Columbia's Vinny Siena.
The fans got a look at relief pitcher Mariano Rivera in the seventh when he easily retired the South on two fly balls and a strikeout of Gunsolus with his father, former New York Yankees closer and 13-time All-Star Mariano Rivera, looking on the stands.
Greenville's Austin Rei got the South on the scoreboard with a no-doubt homer to left leading off the bottom of the eighth. Didder lined a shot to right that Soto tracked down at the wall to keep the North on top.
Delmarva's Garrett Cleavinger hit Mundell and Ockimey with pitches, he induced Greenville's Luis Alejandro Basabe to ground to second base to end the inning. Greensboro closer C.J. Robinson of Greensboro got three quick outs in the bottom of the ninth to close out the game.
North starter Mitch Keller of West Virginia picked up the victory. He struck out two in a perfect first frame.
"I thought when we got up, 2-0, we were in good shape," Schrock said. "All the pitchers were throwing so well that I just thought that would be enough to do it for us and it was."