TROY, New York -- On a night in which it seemed neither team would walk away with a win, the South finally found a way.
Behind the two-RBI efforts of Tristan Gray and Joshua Lopez, the South won its second consecutive New York-Penn League All-Star Game, 5-2, at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium on Tuesday night. Gray, a Pirates infield prospect, also homered and was named the game's BUSH'S Beans All-Star MVP.
Following a lengthy back-and-forth battle, the visitors got on top for good in the ninth against Astros right-hander Reggie Johnson when Lopez lined a two-RBI single to left field and Gray drove the Cardinals catching prospect in with a single to right.
"I saw what pitch he was trying to throw," Lopez said. "He started with a changeup and finished with a changeup. So I was prepared for that pitch. I got lucky to get that base hit and the two RBIs in the last inning."
"Everybody here is really good, obviously," added Gray. "So there were no worries, once we got those three runs, that there was going to be any trouble in the ninth."
Gameday box score
In the bottom of the third, the North threatened to get on the scoreboard first as J.J. Matijevic (Astros) doubled and Greg Deichmann (Athletics) lined a single to left field. Matijevic was waved around, but Oscar Gonzalez (Indians) came up throwing, and by the time the runner reached home, the ball was waiting in Pirates catcher Deon Stafford Jr.'s mitt for the tag.
The South finally tilted the scoreboard two innings later when Gonzalez singled to center to plate Mason McCoy (Orioles) with the game's first run.
The North tried to respond in the bottom of the fifth after putting runners on first and third with no outs. Lopez flushed out Matijevic trying to steal second and Ike Schlabach (Pirates) buckled down to strike out the next two batters.
One inning later, the North did break through when Zacrey Law (Rays) took the first pitch he saw in the game and launched it into the home bullpen to tie the game.
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Lazaro Alonso (Marlins) then followed by reaching on a fielding error by first baseman Ulysses Cantu (Indians), but got caught too far off the bag on a fly ball to center fielder Jose Miguel Medina. The Mets prospect fired to first to get the double play and end the sixth.
That set up Gray, who smashed the first offering by Sam Perez (Marlins) deep to center for a solo shot to put the South back on top in the seventh, 2-1.
"I was watching everybody and I was thinking, "Do I swing at the first pitch or do I not?" Gray explained. "I had faced him two or three times this season, so I knew he had a good slider. I was not trying to get to that slider. He ended up throwing a fastball first pitch and I was ready for it."
Once again, the North looked to push back when Branden Boggetto (Nationals) singled to right and Garrett McCain (Tigers) doubled down the third-base line to put guys with one out. But Jordan Pearce (Tigers) lined softly to short and a drive to right by Oscar Rojas (Rays) to right was tracked down by Bligh Madris (Pirates) at the wall to end the threat.
In the bottom of the eighth, Colby Bortles (Tigers) knotted the game again, taking a 2-2 pitch from Luis Ramirez (Phillies) deep to left-center.
But in the ninth, the South finally put enough distance between the two teams and after James Teague (Orioles) struck out the first two batters of the inning, Spikes manager Joe Kruzel sent out State College superfan Josiah Viera to make the final pitching change of the game, handing off the ball to his closer Andrew Summerville (Cardinals) to the delight of the crowd.
"He made his professional debut," Kruzel said. "And what a great setting for him to be able to do something like that. He gives so much to so many people. With him hanging out, he thinks we're doing something for him, and in all fairness, he's doing something for us. He's a very inspirational person. For him to go out and do that and the fans give him a standing ovation, I think that was outstanding."
Ramirez picked up the win while Johnson was saddled with the loss.