West is best in FSL All-Star Game

Midseason classic has distinctly Lakeland feel

By Thomas Simonetti / MLB.com | June 18, 2005 8:03 PM

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- When the first pitch was thrown Saturday night at at Bright House Networks Field, it was hard to tell it was the Florida State League All-Star Game.

With seven of the nine players on the field representing the Lakeland Tigers, it looked the West Division leaders against everyone else.

"We have a really strong lineup and pitching staff, and it showed," said Lakeland right fielder Brent Clevlen, one of a league-record 10 Tigers on the West roster. "It's pretty cool that we had 10 players here."

The game began with Lakeland's Jordan Tata throwing the first pitch and ended essentially when Clevlen, who won the pregame Home Run Derby, blasted a solo homer in the eighth inning to put the West on top, 6-4.

"It was great and everybody deserved it," said Tata, who pitched one inning and gave up one run on one hit while striking out one. "In my opinion, we could have had all nine of our players out there. We can just chalk this up as a Lakeland Tigers win in my mind."

The West was down a run after the first, but grabbed the lead in the second inning. First baseman Kody Kirkland's double scored Sarasota Reds designated hitter Chris Dickerson and Lakeland center fielder Vincent Blue singled home Kirkland.

The West scored a run in the fifth when Robinzon Diaz of the Dunedin Blue Jays singled in Kirkland. Dickerson slugged a two-run homer an inning later.

It took one swing for the East to get back into the game. St. Lucie Mets first baseman Brett Harper, the runner-up in Home Run Derby, smacked a three-run blast to trim the deficit to 5-4.

Just as he did in Home Run Derby, Clevlen showed up Harper with a solo shot to give the West a little breathing room.

The Tigers, who came in with a league-best 45-20 record, announced the promotion of three players after the game -- right-hander Justin Verlander, second baseman Juan Francia and shortstop Scott Tousa.

In typical All-Star Game style, 20 pitchers were used and there were numerous position changes. Forty-six batters came to the plate, combining for 16 hits and three stolen bases. Daytona Cubs center fielder Christopher Walker was the only East player with more than one hit, going 2-for-3.

Tigers center fielder Vincent Blue was 2-for-2 for the West.

Nick Blackburn of the Fort Myers Miracle got the win, pitching a scoreless second inning, while Carlos Marmol of the Cubs was charged with the loss after giving up two runs in the second. --Thomas Simonetti/MLB.com

Thomas Simonetti is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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