The South All-Star lineup was led by Anthony Stewart (Monarchs, Iowa Lakes CC), Mark Nelson (Freedom, Florida Atlantic), Michael Danner (Diamond Dawgs, Tampa) and Austin Lueck (Monarchs, South Florida), who all had multi-hit games.
“It’s a fun event for these guys,” said North head coach Dave Therneau, who is also the head coach for the Leesburg Lightning. “You get rewarded for what you’ve done so far during the summer. It’s a fun deal for them, win or lose. We didn’t hit well tonight, but it’s still a fun experience. A lot of times, these guys don’t get to do something like this. We had a nice crowd and it was a fun event.”
Nelson earned the night’s top honor as the game’s Most Valuable Player after going 2-for-4 with two doubles with two RBI.
“It’s a real great honor,” Nelson said. “I mean, playing with a bunch of good guys on this team – it was nice to be able to put on a good performance and play with a bunch of guys that we’ve played against for awhile.”
The North and the South swapped runs in the third inning.
With one out in the top of the frame, Stewart singled for the South, swiped second and scored when Nelson doubled to right field.
The North’s Angelo Amendolare (Suns, Seminole State) was plunked but stole second and scored on a single by Jeff Lemon (Suns, Embry-Riddle) to rightfield to knot the score at 1-1.
The South opened it up in the fourth stanza, scoring four runs on three hits.
Brian Hill (Monarchs, Union College) walked and Lueck plated him with a double to center field. With one out, Darryl Knight (Monarchs, Seminole State) hit a single to right to bring Lueck home. After two walks, Danner singled up the middle to bring home Knight and Lee Dunnam (Freedom, USC – Upstate) to give the North a 5-1 lead.
Neither team scored again until the sixth inning, when the South’s Mike Spano (Freedom, FAU) drew a leadoff walk and eventually stole home plate on the front end of a double steal.
The South All-Stars continued to extend their lead in the eighth inning, starting with Spano, who led off with a single. After Daniel Sweet (Diamond Dawgs, Polk State College) was hit by a pitch, Stewart came through with a single to right that knocked in Spano, and an error sent Sweet home. Stewart crossed home plate when Nelson doubled to left field to make it 9-1 South.
It wasn’t until the home half of eighth that the North scored again. Kyle Teaf (Lightning, USF) walked with one out and scored on a single and an error.
The North then finished strong, pushing across two more runs in the bottom of the ninth. Michael Miller (Lightning, Dallas Baptist) scored on a single from Kevin Wortman (River Rats, Florida Tech) and Amendolare scored when Teaf grounded into fielder’s choice.
Drew Gay (Monarchs, Aurora University) took the mound second for the North and earned the win in the contest. The right-hander tossed one inning and gave up one run on one hit.
“The experience here, the big crowd, the other players, the top players across the nation, was a huge deal for me,” Gay said. “It was a lot of fun. I feel honored to be here.”
The South’s Nic Kovacs (Lightning, Palm Beach Atlantic University) was tagged with the loss in the contest.
In addition to Wortman going 1-for-3 and driving in the run, other River Rats representatives did well.
Nick Gonzalez was the starting pitcher and allowed no runs on two hits with four strike outs over two innings, Daniel Seeba also started at third base and went 1-for-3, while Nic Delerme was 0-for-1 with a walk as a back-up catcher and Harrison Hukari followed up Gonzalez by allowing one run (earned) on two hits in one inning of work on the hill.