Bill Hass on Baseball:Hitters carry the night in All-Star game

Hitters carry the night in All-Star game
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(South Atlantic League All-Stars) at

It was a hitters’ night?—?hot, humid and the ball carrying well in a stadium conducive to home runs.

So it was no real surprise when the South used four home runs to carry it to a 9–5 win over the North in the SAL All-Star game Tuesday at First National Bank Field. The teams combined for 22 hits and six homers.

Hoppers manager Todd Pratt, the skipper for the North, enjoyed himself despite being on the losing end.

“It was great to see the talent throughout the league,” he said. “There was great camaraderie, it was a good game, a great crowd and some very talented players.”

Pratt was complimentary of Hoppers team president Donald Moore and vice president of baseball operations Katie Danemiller and their staff for running the event, which included a dinner Monday night, a luncheon Tuesday, the home run contest, selling 7,474 tickets and making the field sparkle.

“Everything was top-notch,” Pratt said.

Three hitters did most of the damage for the South, combining for eight hits and eight RBIs. Bret Boswell of Asheville went 3-for-3, including a home run, and drove in his team’s first three runs. Designated hitter Nick Pratto of Lexington drove in four runs with a two-run homer and two-run single. Manuel Geraldo of Augusta had three hits, including a solo homer, and scored twice.

For the North, Trevor Craport of Delmarva had three hits, including a homer, and three RBIs. Tate Blackman of Kannapolis also homered.

It was a tough night for the three Hoppers who played. The bright spot was 18-year-old Jose Devers, the youngest player in the game, collected an RBI single in his first at-bat. It was his only hit in four trips. Jhonny Santos went 0-for-4 but made four putouts in center field. Pitcher Ryan Lillie, throwing on what was normally his bullpen day, gave up four runs (only one earned) and was charged with the loss.

On a night in which 19 total pitchers were used, the four Rome hurlers were dominant. Bruce Zimmerman, Freddy Tarnok, Walter Borkovich and Kelvin Rodriguez combined to retire 10 of the 11 batters they faced, striking out six. The only blemish was a walk by Rodriguez.

Three things in particular stood out.

In the fifth inning, the bat slipped from Pratto’s grasp and sailed several rows into the stands. It bounced off some seats and was snagged by a fan who didn’t want to give it up. Pratto sent the batboy to get another bat, which he then used to whack a two-run homer.

Pratto faced Hickory’s Tyler Phillips in the seventh inning and smashed a hard line drive that knocked the pitcher’s glove off well behind the mound. Phillips ran the ball down and his throw just beat Pratto to first base.

Delmarva shortstop Nick Maton made the defensive player of the game in the eighth when he ranged into the hole to grab a grounder hit by Rome’s Drew Waters, did a Derek Jeter-style pirouette in the air and got enough on the throw to get the runner.

Hoppers pitching coach Mark DiFelice, who handled the North staff, had the right approach to the game.

“You come to an all-star game to relax, not get stressed out,” he said.