The New York-Penn League's best baseball players were at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen Tuesday night for the league's annual All-Star Game in front of an announced crowd of 3,622.
With a few special constraints put on the managers and players, the North team outlasted the South, 4-2. The South, managed by Aberdeen's Luis Pujols and coached by his staff, found the toughest constraint first-hand. They didn't bat in the bottom of the ninth.
"It's amazing especially when you see so much talent between the two clubs," Pujols said. "I really enjoyed the game, but it's too bad that we don't play the game the right way it's supposed to be, but even the kid [Dario Agrazal/West Virginia] that pitched last for them, they borrowed from us."
Two of Pujols' Aberdeen players, shortstop Ricardo Andujar and reliever Ryan Meisinger, played in the game with success.
Andujar went 1-for-2 with an infield single and was flawless in the field, with five chances over four innings.
"I feel very proud to make the All-Star Game because last year I made the All-Star Game in the Dominican," Andujar said with translation aid from Pujols. "It was very fun and I'm proud to participate in this game today."
Meisinger came on to pitch the ninth inning and retired the side in order. Meisinger got a fly ball to start, then added an assist on a ground to first base for the second out.
The half inning ended on a nifty play up the middle by Brooklyn second baseman Vincent Siena.
"I felt OK tonight. I didn't really throw my off-speed for strikes, I stuck to my fastball," Meisinger said. "It just happens with a reliever sometimes and it was good to have the defense behind me, I mean obviously they all can play."
The winning North team jumped all over South starter Mitch Gueller (Williamsport) in the top of the first inning. Five of the first six batters reached base, four on base hits, including Dexture McCall's (Tri-City) two-run double. McCall was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
The North added a solo run in the fifth off South reliever Juan Perez (State College). Anfernee Seymour (Batavia) was hit by a pitch to lead off. Seymour stole second and eventually came around to score on Batavia teammate Brad Haynal's RBI single.
The South got back in the game with two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Michael Pritchard (State College) singled and while stealing second, Mark Laird (Williamsport) hit a ground ball single through the departed shortstop hole, pushing Pritchard to third.
Pritchard scored moments later on a wild pitch by North pitcher Jordan Holloway (Batavia).
Laird came around to score a little later when Daniel Arribas (West Virginia) reached on a throwing error.
The South had potential tie runs on base in the eighth, but nothing came of it.
Before the NYPL's stars could take the field, numerous mascots entertained the crowd with a game of kick ball, while a number of celebrities were part of a slow pitch softball game.
Team Tess, managed by Tess Strang, took on Team Danny, managed by Danny Mays. Strang is the on-field emcee for the Aberdeen IronBirds and Mays is the IronBirds public address announcer.
Some of the more well-known participants were four former Orioles, pitchers Brian Bass, Calvin Maduro, John Parrish and Garrett Stephenson.
The highlight of the game, won by Team Tess, 4-2, came late in the contest. Joe Stetka, playing former Orioles manager Earl Weaver, went nose-to-nose with home plate umpire Don Myers, before kicking dirt on his shoes. Then both proceeded to eject each other, reliving what Orioles fans saw Weaver do so many years ago.
The NYPL also inducted three members into its Hall of Fame, including Jim Leyland, who managed four teams over 22 seasons and compiled 1,769 wins, three pennants and one world series title; former New York Yankee Don Mattingly, who played all 14 years with Yankees and was a career .307 hitter; and Paul Velte, an owner of the Williamsport Crosscutters for 21 seasons.