Frontier League notebook: Wild Things have tough game on home field
Schaumberg’s Sean Mahley gets a high five from his West coach Eric Coleman after hitting a triple in the second inning of Wednesday’s Frontier League All-Star Game. Mahley was the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Katie Roupe / Observer-Reporter
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Washington might’ve put on a first-class event with the Frontier League All-Star game, but that effort did not show up in the game’s box score.
Second baseman C.J. Beatty and left fielder Stewart Ijames started the game, though they combined to go 0-for-4 with Beatty making an error in the West Division’s three-run second inning.
“I was going to make a backhand glove toss to second, and at the last second I decided, ‘No, go back to the basics.’ ” explained Beatty, who was jokingly threatened by teammates that he would have to pay $50 for making the error. “I tried to go back to the routine play, and it bit me in the end. I hate that it came down to that groundball.”
The most well-struck ball came courtesy of Ijames, who drove a shot to the warning track in center before River City’s Curran Redal ran it down.
Jovan Rosa entered the game at third base and struck out in his only at-bat, chasing a 2-2 pitch from Gateway’s Zac Treese to lead off the eighth.
“It’s disappointing that we didn’t have anything to show up in the box score. We were all trying to do too much,” Beatty said. “It was terrific, though, how the fans embraced us with every at-bat. It felt like 50,000 people were cheering for us. That’s why we play the game.”
Washington catcher Jim Vahalik remains out with a wrist injury, still sporting a black cast, but he pinch ran for center fielder John Schultz in the eighth inning after the latter was hit in the knee by a pitch.
The next batter, Lake Erie’s Max Casper, bounced into a shortstop-to-second-to-first double play to end the inning. The broken wrist, however, didn’t stop Vahalik from going into second base and trying to break up the double play with a hard slide.
“You have to,” Vahalik said. “It was a 4-2 game. My state of mind changes when I cross the white lines. At that point, I can’t do anything about (the broken wrist).”
Vahalik knew that when Schultz was hit by the pitch from Treece, it was going to be his only chance to get in the game, so he wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass.
“I was yelling ‘I’m ready! I’m ready!’ I had my helmet on and was ready to go if they decided to take (Schultz) out of the game.”
Traverse City pitcher Scott Dunn waited a lifetime to get his all-star moment, which was the starting assigment for the East Division. If you blinked, then you might have missed his performance.
It lasted all of six pitches.
Dunn, a Clinton native and graduate of South Side Beaver High School, needed only six pitches to retire the West in order in the top of the first inning on two groundouts and a lineout.
He spent 8 1/2 hours on the road from Michigan to Washington and pitched for about 90 seconds.
“It crossed my mind that I should try throwing every pitch as hard as I possibly could because there were a lot of scouts sitting behind home plate,” Dunn said. “Then I told myself to just do what you’ve been doing all year, and that’s taking my time, making every pitch count and pitching to contact.”
Schultz was the only player to leave the game with an injury. The Evansville center fielder said he will likely have an X-ray taken on his injured right knee today.
It wasn’t the way Schultz, a former standout player at Pitt and a native of West Lawn, wanted to exit, especially with his parents in attendance.
“Hopefully, there’s nothing wrong with the knee. I had a lot of fun, and other than getting hit on the knee this was a rewarding experience,” he said. “Being part of a game with the best players in the league, a player can’t ask for a better situation.”
The West Division’s pitching staff entered the all-star game with 469 strikeouts in 525 innings – very good numbers, but not you-have-to-see-this dominance.
But during the course of the West’s 4-2 win, 10 pitchers racked up 11 strikeouts in nine innings, the result of working ahead in counts.
“We had some power arms, we knew that coming in,” West Division manager Phil Warren said. “But I think the biggest thing was they were ahead of hitters most of the time. Just pounding the zone. When you’re ahead of the hitters you can pretty much throw what you want when you want.”
It has been a good month for several Frontier League alums.
Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Steve Delabar, who played for the Florence Freedom in 2008, won the fan voting for the final spot on the American League All-Star team. He pitched to only batter in the game Tuesday night in New York, striking out San Francisco’s Buster Posey on four pitches to end the seventh inning.
The Frontier League also had former umpire Tripp Gibson make his major-league debut. A regular umpire in the Class AAA Pacific Coast League, Gibson was recently promoted to the majors for a 10-day fill-in assignment and was the home plate umpire for two games, including a 14-inning contest between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks.