After knocking on the door over the course of the first seven innings, the Northern Division All-Stars were bound to break through.
A little help from the South sure didn’t hurt.
A walk, a wild pitch and a play that could’ve been made at third base set the table for Delmarva’s Doran Turchin, who ripped a bases-clearing double into the left-center gap in the bottom of the eighth inning to cap a five-run frame and push the North to a 6-2 victory in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game Tuesday night at Appalachian Power Park.
An announced sellout crowd of 6,237 attended the festivities.
Turchin won the game’s MVP award after finally giving the North a big hit with runners on. Before the eighth, the North had left seven runners on base and trailed 2-1. Turchin missed an earlier opportunity to drive in a run, but didn’t miss in the eighth.
Although his hit ended up being the game’s biggest, he kept everything in perspective afterward.
“I just wanted to have fun, for me it’s all it was,” Turchin said. “You work so hard the first 70 games, just to come and enjoy the experience and the players -- there are some special players around here. For me, I had the opportunity twice, I can’t ask for anything more. The first one he got me, but I had fun the whole time and that’s what mattered to me.”
Greensboro’s Rodolfo Castro drew a walk to lead off the frame and Hickory’s Jonathan Ornelas singled behind him to put the North in business.
Hickory’s Curtis Terry, who won the Home Run Derby before the game, grounded into a 5-3 fielder’s choice on a terrific play from South third baseman Triston Casas, but both runners advanced on the play.
Hagerstown’s Gilbert Lara followed and struck out, but the ball sailed to the backstop, allowing Castro to score on a wild pitch. Hickory’s Pedro Gonzalez singled in the next at bat on a ball that ricocheted off Casas’ glove, loading the bases for Turchin, who drove in the go-ahead runs with a drive to the gap on a 2-0 pitch.
“Got ahead in the count 2-0, which is always nice,” Turchin said. “I was just looking for a fastball elevated, and luckily for me, I got a fastball up in the zone, down the middle and I was able to get a good swing off.”
Lolo Sanchez would later drive in Turchin with a double off the left-field wall to provide the final margin.
For the game, the North outhit the South 11-4.
After a quiet first five innings, the Southern Division took the lead in the top of the sixth as Charleston’s Brandon Lockridge took advantage of his first at-bat, clubbing a two-run home run to left field to score Columbia’s Ronny Mauricio. Lockridge finished second in the Home Run Derby earlier in the day.
The North answered with a tally in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI single by Gonzalez, scoring Castro, who walked to lead off the inning. Gonzalez’s single put runners on the corners for Turchin, who grounded harmlessly to short to end the inning.
Missed opportunities were the narrative early for the North as the team left the bases loaded in the fourth inning and missed opportunities with runners in scoring position in the second and sixth frames as well.
All told, the North left eight on base compared to just five for the South.
Delmarva, an affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, entered the game with the best record in the South Atlantic League at 48-21 and the Shorebirds were well represented with four pitchers appearing in the game, including North starter Grayson Rodriguez.
Delmarva leads the league in ERA (3.09) and strikeouts (708), and those arms had a big determining factor in the outcome of the game for better or worse.
The Shorebirds’ Ofelky Peralta was tagged with two earned runs after giving up the double and homer in the sixth, but otherwise Delmarva showed well with Rodriguez, Drew Rom and Zach Matsen all hanging zeroes.
Charleston’s Alexander Vizcaino was tagged with the loss, giving up five earned runs in just one-third of an inning. Lakewood’s Kyle Glogoski picked up the win after hurling a perfect top of the eighth.
Ornelas, Lara and Gonzalez each had a pair of hits, representing the game’s lone multi-hit efforts.
Catcher Jake Anchia, the West Virginia Power’s lone hitter represented for the North, flied out to right in his only at-bat. The Power’s Bryan Pall pitched the top of the second inning, yielding a double to Hagerstown’s Gilbert Lara and striking out two in a scoreless frame. Finally, Dayeison Arias was called upon to get the final out to conclude Power players’ contributions on Tuesday.
n Ornelas also won an award for the game’s most outstanding defensive play on a foul ball he caught at the stands in the second inning off the bat of Rome’s Logan Brown.
Despite the extra hardware, Ornelas echoed Turchin’s sentiments.
“To be honest, I haven’t had anything like this so far,” Ornelas said. “It’s been fun to have so many fans come out and support you, especially in West Virginia, so it’s been fun.
“Everybody is super friendly and I like to make friends so it wasn’t much of a problem. I got in there like, ’Hey, what’s going on? How are you? What’s your name?’ And then from there we just took off. Even after one game we had some pretty good team chemistry.”