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Motter keeps cooking at SL All-Star Game

Biscuits infielder earns 'Star of Star' honors with perfect night at plate
June 17, 2014

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- Montgomery's Taylor Motter finished the first half on a tear and the hitting spree carried over to the Southern League All-Star Game. 

The 24-year-old Rays prospect was 3-for-3 with a home run to lead the South Division to a 6-4 victory over the host North on Tuesday night before a crowd of 4,487 at AT&T Field.

"It's definitely surreal," said Motter, who capped his first All-Star Game by being named Star of Stars. "To finally be at one of these is really nice. It was fun all around."

Motter already had two hits when he came to bat to lead off the sixth inning. South manager Andy Green of Mobile told him he had to go deep if he wanted to be the MVP.

Motter, who has just four regular-season homers, did just that.

"Andy told me bomb or bust and I definitely went for it," said Motter, who turned on a first-pitch inside fastball down in the strike zone and drove the ball over the left-field fence.

It was one of four homers in the game, two by each team. Mycal Jones of Mississippi also connected for the South, while Scott Schebler and O'Koyea Dickson of host Chattanooga homered for the North.

Dickson's blast was a two-run shot in the ninth and the North got the tying run to the plate before James Hoyt of Mississippi closed out the game.

It was the third straight victory for the South, which had lost the first seven All-Star Games after the Southern League went to its present division split.

The South was able to hold Tennessee slugger Kris Bryant to a single in five trips to the plate as Motter outdid the game's more prominent prospects.

"The Rays have a good one there," Green said. "He's versatile and he swings a good bat. I really like the way he plays."   

Motter, who has seen time all over the infield and outfield for Montgomery, drew the start in right field for the South and picked up where he had left off in the first half with the Biscuits.

The 17th-round pick in the 2011 Draft out of Coastal Carolina University returned from a brief stint on the disabled list to hit .378 with four multi-hit outings in his final eight games of the first half.

That raised Motter's average to .319, and he has 19 extra-base hits, 32 RBIs and 30 runs scored.

"The Rays like players who can play all over, so learning to be versatile certainly can't hurt me," said Motter, who came out of college as a shortstop and is relatively new to the outfield.

There were 26 hits in the game, 14 by the South, and eight went for extra bases.

There would have been even more if the game hadn't featured a number a sterling defensive plays, the best of which was a diving catch in right field by the North's Michael Early of Birmingham in the eighth.

After North starter Tyler Cravy of Huntsville pitched a perfect top of the first inning, each center fielder showed off his speed early in taking away extra-base hits.

Jones' catch helped South starter Williams Perez -- his Mississippi teammate -- pitch around a leadoff single in the bottom of the first. Then a grab by Birmingham's Trayce Thompson in the second let Huntsville's Drew Gagnon escape a pair of singles.

The North left the bases loaded against winning pitcher Michael Lorenzen of Pensacola in the second and the South took the lead in the third off loser Cody Winiarski of Birmingham. Jones homered to left field with one out and three singles followed, a hit by Pensacola's Rey Navarro driving in the second run.

The South doubled its lead in the fourth against Brent Suter of Huntsville. Motter singled, Montgomery teammate Luke Maile doubled and Brady Shoemaker of Jacksonville plated them both with a double.

The North scored in the bottom of the inning against Robert Stephenson of Pensacola. Birmingham's Josh Richmond, who had made a diving catch to end the top of the inning, followed the second hit of the game by Huntsville's Jason Rogers and a stolen base with an RBI hit.

The South got the run back in the sixth inning as Motter led off with his homer against Tennessee's P.J. Francescon. The North made it, 5-2, in the bottom of the inning when Schebler, who also doubled, sent a towering blast to right field off Mississippi's J.R. Graham that was estimated at 447 feet.  

The South's sixth run came in the eighth of Huntsville closer David Goforth. Jones walked, swiped second base and scored on a single by Mobile's Sean Jamieson.

Then things got interesting in the ninth.

Ketel Marte of Jackson led off with his second hit of the game and Montgomery's Santiago Garrido was replaced with one out by Hoyt. After Bryant flew out to deep center field for the second out, Dickson didn't miss, hitting a blast over the fence in left.

Shawn Zarraga of Huntsville then singled to keep the North's comeback hopes alive, but Hoyt got Schebler to bounce out to end the game.

Guy Curtright is a contributor to