North beats South, 3-2, in South Atlantic League All-Star Game
Leave it to Tyler Austin and the Charleston RiverDogs to add a little drama to the 53rd South Atlantic League All-Star game.
Delmarva first baseman Nicky Delmonico had two hits and scored two runs to earn the game’s most valuable player award to lead the Northern Division past the Southern Division, 3-2, Tuesday night before 6,099 at Riley Park.
Trailing by three runs heading into the South’s final at bat, the Charleston RiverDogs left fielder gave the hometown fans something to finally cheer about when he slapped a triple to right field to start the ninth inning.
“I hadn’t had any good at bats all night. I’d been taking poor swings all night,” Austin said. “I went up there with a little bit different approach for that at bat and got a fastball away and just went with it. Luckily things worked out for me.”
Two batters later, Charleston backup catcher Francisco Arcia lined to center to score Austin.
“He’s been getting big hits all season — he’s a great hitter,” Austin said. “It was nice to give the RiverDogs fans something to cheer about.”
Arcia later scored on a Harold Riggins’ fielder’s choice to close the gap to 3-2.
But Travis Taijeron struck out swinging to end the game.
Delmonico, a sixth-round pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 2011, was one of just two players in the game to get multiple hits.
“I got a couple of counts in my favor and got a couple of pitches to drive,” Delmonico said. “I knew they’d have to come at me and I was ready for them.”
Delmonico, the son of former University of Tennessee baseball coach Rod Delmonico, got a bit advice from his dad before the game.
“He watched me during batting practice and told me to use my top hand a little bit more,” Delmonico said. “I guess it paid off for me tonight.”
The game was scoreless for the first four innings as both pitching staffs dominated.
“That’s really typical for an all-star game,” said Southern Division and Charleston manager Carlos Mendoza. “Runs are usually hard to come by in an all-star game.”
The North broke the scoreless game in the fifth inning as Delmonico beat out an infield single. With two outs, Kannapolis catcher Kevan Smith lined to right that scored Delmonico.
Delmonico got the North offense going again in the seventh inning when he ripped a double down the right-field line and took third on an error. Hanser Alberto then grounded a single past the mound and through the middle to plate Delmonico for a 2-0 lead.
The North added a run in the eighth on Mark Haddow’s RBI single.
Charleston’s Gary Sanchez had a single, while RiverDogs center fielder Mason Williams was hitless in two at-bats.
Charleston pitchers Pedro Guerra and Bryan Mitchell combined to throw 11/3 hitless innings.
SAL Hall of Fame
Charleston RiverDogs co-owner Bill Murray, longtime Charleston mayor Joseph P. Riley and Asheville Tourists executive Carolyn McKee were inducted into the South Atlantic League Hall of Fame in a banquet before the game.
“No one has ever asked me to be in a Hall of Fame before,” Murray joked.
Riley, who is in his 10th term as Charleston’s mayor, said baseball has always been a huge part of his life.
“I am so honored to be included,” Riley said.
Home Run Derby
Asheville first baseman Harold Riggins hit three home runs in the final round of the Home Run Derby contest to defeat Lexington third baseman Matt Duffy, 3-0, prior to the game.
The preliminary round of the event was held Monday morning on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Yorktown.
United States Air Force Skydiving team, the Wings of Blue, jumped from 4,500 feet above Riley Park to bring in the game ball.
The four-member team jumped from a Charleston based C-17 airplane and landed in center field minutes before the first pitch. Colonel Erik Hansen, commander of the local 437th airlift wing, served as the mission commander.