This year’s Midwest League All-Star Game was a true midsummer classic, as the two sides traded offensive blows throughout the contest, with the Eastern Division All-Stars coming out on top with an 11-10 win.
In the early innings, it appeared as though the Western Division All-Stars might breeze to victory, taking an 8-1 lead into the 4th inning. But that’s when the East’s bats woke up, driving in five runs to make it an 8-6 game in the middle innings. The East rallied for another run in the top of the 7th to make it a one-run game, but the West responded by plating a pair in the bottom half to take a 10-7 lead.
The two West runs in the 7th came off the bat of Cedar Rapids Kernels catcher A.J. Murray, who slugged a two-run homer. The All-Star Game was played in Cedar Rapids this year, so Murray’s late-inning heroics predictably pleased the crowd, which erupted into loud, prolonged cheers. At that point, it seemed Murray’s blast would be the highlight of the night.
That would change in the top of the 9th. The East All-Stars led off with back-to-back singles by West Michigan Whitecaps infielder David Gonzalez and South Bend Cubs outfielder Donnie Dewees before Wisconsin Timber Rattlers RHP Marcos Diplan retired Bowling Green Hot Rods catcher Brett Sullivan on a grounder for the first out.
A pitching change followed, with Clinton LumberKings RHP Darin Gillies replacing Diplan to face Cubs outfielder Eloy Jimenez, who drove in a run earlier in the game. After reportedly telling his teammates he would homer, Jimenez crushed a pitch over the fence in centerfield to tie the game 10-10. The monster shot, which traveled well over 400 feet, was the new highlight of the evening, especially after the East went on to score once more for the lead and shut down the West in the bottom half of the inning.
Jimenez, who started in leftfield and played the entire game, earned the Top Star Award, which is equivalent to being named most valuable player. It is the second year in a row that a South Bend Cubs player earned the award, after pitcher Jeremy Null won it last year.
Kane County Cougars first baseman Trevor Mitsui went 2-for-3 with a double and three runs batted in. His first-inning double drove in the first two runs of the game.
A total of 56 players were used in the game. You can see the box score here.
Attendance was announced at 4,565.
*All photos by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler