Courtesy: Ben Gellman, Salem Red Sox
The Salem Red Sox’ own Michael Chavis won MVP honors at the 2017 Carolina League All-Star Classic Tuesday night, as his two-run double in the first inning proved all the Northern Division would need in their 2-0 win over the Southern Division in front of 5,802 fans at Haley Toyota Field at Salem Memorial Ballpark.
It was the first shutout in the Carolina League All-Star Game since the Carolina Leaguers blanked the California League All-Stars 3-0 at Myrtle Beach in 2008, back when the two leagues got together for an All-Star Game. Offense came at a premium, with both sides combining for just 11 hits and one walk against some truly stingy pitching.
The Northern Division did all the scoring in the bottom of the first against Southern Division starter Adbert Alzolay of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, who allowed a leadoff single to Nicky Lopez before the Wilmington Blue Rocks shortstop swiped second, advancing to third as Alzolay’s wild pitch skittered away from Winston-Salem Dash catcher Zack Collins. Austin Hays of the Frederick Keys earned a walk, putting runners at the corners for Chavis. The slugger didn’t disappoint, blasting a laser into the gap in left-center field for a two-run double. The two-bagger put the North ahead 2-0.
No more runs crossed the plate from that point on, as both sides put up goose egg after goose egg on the board against some of the best pitchers in the league. The Northern Division nearly got another run in the second as Anderson Miller (Wilmington) tried to score on a double by Salem’s Chad De La Guerra, but Myrtle Beach outfielder Daniel Spingola’s throw to the infield was relayed home brilliantly by Myrtle Beach second baseman Bryant Flete, and Collins slapped the tag on Miller for the out. From then on, neither side got more than two runners aboard in an inning, with Northern pitchers reeling off a 14-batter streak without allowing anyone to reach base.
For the North, Shao-Ching Chiang of the Lynchburg Hillcats tossed a scoreless first inning with one hit for the win. Ricardo Rodriguez of the Down East Wood Ducks, Brock Hartson of the Hillcats, and Trevor Kelley of the Sox each fired scoreless frames with two strikeouts, and Argenis Angulo of Lynchburg slammed the door with a perfect ninth with two whiffs of his own to earn the save. Wilmington Blue Rocks hurlers Cristian Castillo, Yunior Marte, A.J. Puckett and Richard Lovelady each fired a spotless frame for the North, as did Frederick Keys righty Tanner Chleborad.
For the South, their pitchers fared nearly as well. Alzolay took the loss, allowing two runs on two hits and a walk in his inning. Tanner Banks of the Winston-Salem Dash gave up a pair of hits in one inning but escaped unscathed. Carolina hurlers Cody Ponce, Freddy Peralta and Nate Griep each posted scoreless innings, as did Myrtle Beach’s Justin Steele, Down East Wood Ducks closer Ricardo Rodriguez, and Buies Creek Astros relief ace Nick Hernandez.
Though hits were hard to come by (just 11 between the two sides), some players shone. Lopez, Hays and Chavis all notched hits for the North, as did Miller, De La Guerra and Lynchburg’s Willi Castro. Chavis and De La Guerra were the only players to record extra-base hits in the game. For the South, Myles Straw (Buies Creek) and Luis La O (Down East) each notched two hits, and Winston-Salem shortstop Danny Mendick recorded a single as well.
The Salem Red Sox open the second half with a four-game series against the Wilmington Blue Rocks, starting Thursday, June 22. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m., and Ben Gellman has the call starting at 6:45 p.m. on the Red Sox Radio Network.