VIERA, Fla. - You've no doubt heard umpteen times that the Class A Advanced Florida State League is a pitchers' league. Well, the league's hitters were clearly hell-bent on making a mockery of that theory.
The teams combined for 12 runs on 23 hits Saturday, with the visiting West All Stars emerging victorious, 9-3, at the 47th annual Florida State League All-Star Game at Space Coast Stadium, home of the Brevard County Manatees.
Sarasota Reds outfielder Drew Stubbs earned Star of Stars MVP honors, going 1-for-3 with a two-run homer in the second inning.
"Both lineups had a lot of great hitters," said Stubbs, Cincinnati's top pick in the 2006 Draft out of Texas. "Some days the pitching is going to get the hitting and others it's vice-versa. It's one of those deals that can go either way, and tonight the bats just came alive."
The stage was set for offensive fireworks as leadoff hitter Brian Dinkelman of the Fort Myers Miracle (Twins) beat out an infield single off East starter Ryan Morse of the Vero Beach Devil Rays. Gus Milner of the Clearwater Threshers (Phillies) joined him on the bases by drawing a walk and, after moving to third base on a deep fly ball by Sarasota slugger Juan Francisco, Dinkelman scored the game's first run on a passed ball. Milner crossed the plate moments later when Blue Jays prospect J.P. Arencibia dunked an RBI single into right field.
The East responded quickly as Darren Ford of the Manatees led things off with a single and came around to score on a sacrifice fly to right by Palm Beach Cardinals cleanup hitter Tony Cruz.
With one out in the second against St. Lucie Mets right-hander Dylan Gee, Tampa Yankees outfielder James Cooper looped a soft liner to center for a single to set the stage for Stubbs' blast.
Known more for his speed than his power, Stubbs came into the game hitting .258 with three homers and 24 RBIs. But he hit a no-doubt-about-it shot off of Gee, whom he had faced recently when the Mets and Reds squared off. Stubbs didn't attribute his success Saturday night to that previous meeting, however.
"It was just one of many guys we faced during the year," he said. "It's not like I had a scouting report on him. I just saw good pitches and made good contact."
While most of the pitchers took their lumps to some degree, Clearwater's Edgar Garcia was not among them as he set down the East in order in the second and struck out Home Run Derby hero J.T. Hall for good measure. That unusual dominance earned him the game's Most Outstanding Pitcher award.
The score remained 4-1 until the fourth, when the East mounted its last big threat. The hosts scored a pair of runs as Jupiter Hammerheads (Marlins) first baseman Logan Morrison singled up the middle leading off and Cruz followed with a double to left. Hometown hero Taylor Green brought Morrison home with a groundout and Vero Beach's Cesar Suarez followed with a sacrifice fly to get the East within 4-3.
The West responded immediately in the fifth and never looked back. In one of the night's more unusual scoring scenarios, Cooper was hit by a pitch for the second time, this time iwith the bases loaded to make it 5-3.
In the sixth, Fort Myers' Danny Valencia put the game away and upped the lead to 7-3 when he laced a two-run triple to right field. For Valencia, who was 2-for-5, it was some redemption for a pair of earlier errors at third base.
The West added another run when Lakeland's Ryan Streiby singled home Valencia, then capped the scoring in the ninth on a leadoff homer by Lakeland's Cale Iorg.
The win went to West starter Rick Porcello of the Flying Tigers, who allowed one run on two hits in his lone inning. The 2007 first-round pick is in his debut pro season.
East starter Ryan Morse of the Devil Rays took the loss.
The West collected 13 hits, with Valencia, Dinkelman and Arencibia each picking up a pair. Every member of the starting lineup had at least one hit.
The East totaled 10 hits, with Morrison, Cruz and Daytona Cubs outfielder Jim Adduci registering two apiece.