MIDLAND, Mich. -- Clinton outfielder Tim Smith hit just two homers over the course of the first half of the Midwest League regular season. He picked a perfect time for long ball No. 3.
Leading off the top of the 10th inning in the Midwest League All-Star Game in front of a record crowd at the Dow Diamond, Smith smacked a shot off of Great Lakes reliever Miguel Ramirez just fair down the right-field line to give the West All-Stars a 5-4 victory and earn himself the MVP award for the game.
"I was able to sit back on a fastball," said Smith, a 2007 seventh-round pick by the Texas Rangers out of Arizona State. "I was praying it was going to stay fair. I couldn't have asked for a better ending."
Smith easily could have shared the award with Peoria right-hander Blake Parker. The reliever came into the game in the ninth and got out of a one-out, runners on second and third jam, then struck out the side in the bottom of the 10th to earn the victory for the West.
Great Lakes right-hander Steven Johnson, who got the first start in Dow Diamond in April 2007, got the nod for the East All-Stars. He gave up two runs on two hits and two walks, allowing a two-run single off the bat of Kane County's Corey Brown in his inning of work. He helped record the final out of the first frame by kick-saving a comebacker to first baseman Chris Carlson.
"I never played hockey, but maybe I should have," joked Johnson, who added his slightly bruised right foot was just fine. "It definitely was an honor [to start]. It was a special thing. It was very frustrating. You want to go out and do very well, but it was a fun time out there. I just wish it could have been a little better."
His East Division teammates got Johnson off the hook in the third. The bottom of the order -- Lansing's Manny Ramirez and Fort Wayne's Andy Parrino -- led off the frame with walks. Quad Cities shortstop Pete Kozma singled to load the bases and Johnson's teammate Andrew Lambo laced a single to plate Rodriguez. West Michigan first baseman Chris Carlson drove home Parrino with a groundout to third and outfielder Charlie Kingrey brought home Quad Cities teammate Kozma with an infield single to give the East a 3-2 lead.
It would be short-lived as the West knotted the score in the top of the fourth. Clinton third baseman Jonathan Greene led off with a double and moved to third when fellow LumberKing Jose Felix singled. Greene came in with the West's third run of the game on Burlington center fielder Adrian Ortiz's groundout.
The West retook the lead in the following inning when designated hitter Jovan Rosa (Peoria) doubled and scored on Wisconsin infielder Edilio Colina's single. The East tied it up again, 4-4, when Kingrey tripled with two outs in the fifth and scored on a wild pitch by Beloit's Steven Hirschfeld.
Then the rains came, forcing a 30-minute delay. Most of the stadium-record crowd of 5,814 returned to their seats, but the bats didn't seem to come back out of the clubhouse. After eight runs were scored on 15 hits through the first five innings, the collective offenses managed just three hits combined over the next three frames.
The East showed signs of life in the bottom of the ninth. Lansing's Justin Jackson led off with a single, but was erased on a forceout hit by Mike Mee (South Bend). Switch-hitting Home Run Derby champion Felix Carrasco, this time hitting right-handed, doubled to right to put runners at second and third with one out. But Parker Parker came in to strike out Dayton's Denis Phipps and induce Great Lakes catcher Kenley Jansen to pop out to short, setting the stage for Smith's heroics in extras and perhaps raising the bar for the LumberKings outfielder when the second half kicks off.
"They're going to expect me to start hitting home runs when I get back to Clinton," joked Smith, who has three career homers outside of his All-Star blast. "And I'll go back to slapping my singles to left. So I'll wear the boos for a few days."