Pitching prevails and Wil Myers continues to impress at Triple-A All-Star Game
The PCL added just another run in the fourth inning as pitching prevailed in a 3-0 win in the 25th annual version of the game before a sellout crowd of 18,025 at Coca-Cola Field.
The game marked a return to the event’s genesis, as Buffalo hosted the first-ever version in 1988. The turnout was the third-highest in the game’s history, behind only the 19,500 in the inaugural game and the record 20,725 at Louisville’s Cardinal Stadium in 1991.
11 PCL pitchers combined to allow just five hits and recorded 11 strikeouts. The nine members of the IL staff also fanned 11, but allowed eight hits.
“It’s difficult for hitters to adjust and not have the feel for seeing the same pitcher twice,” said Marty Brown, the former Buffalo Bisons manager who is now with the Las Vegas 51s and was skipper for the PCL.
“Players really don’t know what to expect,” said IL manager Mike Sarbaugh of the Columbus Clippers. “It’s difficult when you get down early, then you get the back part of the game with closers.”
IL starter Tyler Cloyd, of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, allowed singles to the game’s first two batters, Reno Aces teammates Adam Eaton and Jake Elmore. Eaton scored on a sacrifice fly by former Bison Mike Hessman, now representing Oklahoma City, and Elmore came home on a two-out single by Wil Myers.
Myers, the Omaha Storm Chasers 21-year old phenom who was ranked as Kansas City’s third-best prospect this season by Baseball America, scored the game’s other run, leading off the fourth with a double and scoring on a two-out double by Albuquerque’s Tim Federowicz.
For his efforts, Myers was named the Star of Stars for the PCL. He was also the star of the major league Futures Game on Sunday in Kansas City, where he had three RBIs.
“It’s cool to come out here and get the award,” he said. “It’s something I’ll always remember. Hopefully the call-up will be even better. It could obviously happen at any time. Right now, I just want to go out and get try to get better at-bats.”
Bisons pitcher Matt Harvey, who at 23 was the youngest player on the I.L. roster, worked two shutout innings and earned the IL’s Star of Stars award. He came on in the second and set down six of the seven batters he faced, only hitting the leadoff batter in the third.
“It’s kind of hard not to get up to pitch in front of 18,000 like we had,” Harvey said. “It was a really special night. It was electric. The whole experience of being an All-Star and having it in Buffalo just added to the appreciation of being here.”
Harvey was the only pitcher from either squad to work more than one inning. Cloyd took the loss and PCL starter Graham Godfrey of the Sacramento Rivercats, working with the early two-run lead, was credited with the win.
Buffalo slugger Valentino Pascucci, the winner of Monday’s Home Run Derby, was the IL’s starting designated hitter and lined a double off the left-field wall in the second inning. He also walked three times.
“Guys were teasing me that all these guys were watching Monday night,” Pascucci said. “I saw maybe one or two strikes after my first at-bat. I didn’t come in planning to walk three times, but that’s the way it turned out.”
The Bisons’ other representative, reliever Fernando Cabrera, struck out the only batter he faced to finish the ninth inning.
Buffalo native Jim Negrych, a member of the Syracuse Chiefs, entered the game in the sixth inning as a defensive replacement at second base. He singled in his first at-bat in the seventh and hit into a fielder’s choice in the ninth.
Negrych, a product of St. Francis High School, received a rousing ovation in pre-game introductions. The crowd erupted again before his first at-bat and again after his single.
“When you’re in the box, it’s just you and the pitcher. You don’t really notice anything else that’s going on,” Negrych said. “It’s just baseball and it was probably the most comfortable I felt the entire time. The way I was treated was head and shoulders better than anything I could have possible imagined.”
Pre-game ceremonies included Hall-of-Fame pitcher Tom Seaver throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, with fellow Cooperstown enshrine Ryne Sandberg on the receiving end. Sandberg, manager of Lehigh Valley, was a coach for the International League.
Seaver spoke at a luncheon earlier Wednesday, attended by 900 at the Adam’s Mark Hotel.
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