West wins battle of arms in Frontier League All-Star game

News-DemocratJuly 16, 2014 

— On a night where power and speed was supposed to be on display, the top pitchers in the Frontier League stole the show during the 21st annual All-Star game on Wednesday at GCS Ballpark.

Justin Vasquez of Schaumburg had a run-scoring single with two outs in the fifth inning and Mike Schwartz of Normal scored on a passed ball as the West Division posted a 2-0 victory over the East Division.

A crowd of 5,043 --the sixth-largest in Frontier League All-Star game history -- took advantage of perfect weather conditions and were treated to a dominant pitching performance by the staffs of both teams.

The game's pitchers combined for 24 strikeouts and gave up just 10 hits.

"It just goes to show you how good the pitching is in this league. Ten hits isn't many when you consider the caliber of hitters that were here tonight,'' West Division and Gateway Grizzlies manager Phil Warren said. "Facing these guys just once or twice, it's tough for the hitters.

"I'm just glad we were able to scratch over a couple runs there in the fifth inning.''

Gerarado Sanchez of Rockford pitched a scoreless fifth inning to record the win for the West. Jordan McCoy of Lake Erie took the loss for the East.

Held to only two hits through the first four innings by four East Division pitchers, the West got on the scoreboard against McCoy.

With two outs, McCoy hit Hector Crespo of River City with a pitch and then walked Mike Schwartz of Normal to put runners on first and second.

Facing a count of 2-1, Vasquez lifted a pop fly into shallow left field which fell between three players as Crespo scored the first run of the game.

Two pitches later, Schwartz, who collected two of the three hits for the West, scored on a passed ball to make the score 2-0.

Schwartz, who finished the night 2-for-3 with a walk, was chosen as the most valuable player of the game.

"I just tried to make solid contact and find a couple of holes out there. It felt good to help the team and to be named as the MVP is something I'll remember for a long time,'' Schwartz said. "We didn't have a lot of hits or even many scoring chances, but we were able to take advantage and push across a couple runs when we did.

"The pitching in this league is so good.''

The East Division loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh inning, but Richard Barrett of Gateway struck out Emmanuel Quiles of Lake Erie to end the threat.

Following the West Division's two-run fifth, the East Division's pitchers struck out the next seven West hitters.

Pitching dominated the first three innings as both teams managed only two hits apiece.

Starting for the West Division, Gateway ace JaVaun West retired the East in order in the top of the first inning and Centralia native Aaron Newcomb of Gateway gave up a hit in the top of the third.

The West Division had a mild threat against former Gateway pitcher Zac Treece in the bottom of the third.

Now pitching for Lake Erie, Treece walked Grant DeBruin of Joliet to lead off, but got River City infielder Hector Crespo to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play.

Normal's Mike Schwartz then singled -- his second hit of the game -- and Treece walked Vasquez to put runners on first and second.

But Treece got former Gateway teammate Michael Wing to ground into a fielder's choice to end the inning.


The All-Star game appearance proved to be a short one for West Division starting third baseman Taylor Ard of River City.

Ard took the field in the top of the first inning, but after the first pitch from West, Ard was taken out.

The 25-year-old Vancouver, Wash. native had his contract picked up the Arizona Diamondbacks shortly before the game.

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