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Of Blasts and Bunts: All-Star Game at Coca-Cola Park Goes Big and Small

Aug 24, 2017 8:28 AM
Douglas B. Brill

After just the second and third homeruns in LV MSBL history at Coca-Cola Park, the festivities end on a bunt.

Most of the runs came via the longball. When it mattered most, the 18-25 Elite All-Stars turned to small ball. And the Tri-County Black & Blue All-Stars weren’t falling for that one again.

Two players hit homeruns in the Lehigh Valley Men’s Senior Baseball League signature All-Star Game under the lights Thursday at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown. Kyle Marason of the Washington Nationals and Kyle Ruff of the Northampton Kids provided just the second and third homeruns in the LV MSBL’s nine seasons of All-Star Games at the home of the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

Until Marason’s first-inning blast into the bullpen, Cody Kulp of the Gabelsville Owls had been the only LV MSBL player to homer in an LV MSBL All-Star Game at the 10,000-seat stadium.

And after all of that, the game ended on a bunt for the second consecutive season.

18 Stars vs. 25 Stars

In the earlier All-Star Game between the 18 All-Stars and 25 All-Stars, there were zeroes, then rain, then runs, then zeroes.

Picking up in the bottom of the third inning in a scoreless game postponed by rain, the 18s and 25s scored all of their runs in their first trips to the plate. The 25s scored an unearned run in the bottom of the third inning, the 18s answered with three runs in the top of the fourth inning, and that was it for the scoring. The 18s won 3-1.

The three-run inning made a winner of 18s pitcher Matt Kiak of the Royals, who combined with eight other 18s pitchers holding the 25s to just the single run. It was the second consecutive season that a Royals pitcher earned the All-Star game win. Last year, Paul Duyvejonck struck out the side to earn the win.

Drew Lingle of the Orioles, originally scheduled to throw one inning, threw a gutsy five innings for a shorthanded staff. But he took the loss as the three-run fourth was all the 18s needed.

A Pair of Kyles with a Pair of Blasts

The first blast of the night came from Marason, who had four homeruns in the regular season.

With two runners on in the first inning, Marason drilled a line drive toward the bullpen. 18-25s leftfielder Ross Dartouzos of the Indians almost grabbed it with a leap at the wall, but the ball eluded his glove as children scampered into the bullpen area to retrieve the souvenir.

The blast staked the Trico B&B stars to a 3-0 lead they would never relinquish despite surrendering a homerun themselves. Kyle Ruff pulled the 18-25 stars back into the game with a two-run homer, also into the leftfield bullpen area. Unlike the earlier blast, there was no chance to catch this one. Ruff had one homerun in the regular season for the champion Northampton Kids.

Squeezed into Defeat

In the end, however, it was a bunt play that decided the game.

Trailing by one run and down to their final out, the 18-25 All-Stars called for a suicide squeeze. But the batter missed the bunt and the runner taking off from third had no choice but to run into the final out despite a nifty slide that gave him a chance. The Trico B&B Stars won 5-4.

Starting pitcher Daron Whitmore of the champion DM Palmisano Sanitation Rangers was the winning pitcher thanks to Marason’s 3-run blast, and Alex Lawson of the Rangers earned a 2-pitch save.

In a bit of a twist, it was the second year in a row that the contest between the 18-25 and Trico B&B all-stars ended on a squeeze play. Last year the 18-25s pulled off the squeeze for a dramatic walkoff win over favored Trico B&B.

But this year, it didn’t work. The way the game shaped up, maybe it would have been best to go for another homer.

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