Strong pitching, a two-run blast over the left field fence, and untimely errors highlighted the inaugural Dave Nicewonger All-Star Classic at San José Municipal Stadium as the National All-Stars defeated the American All-Stars 7-3.
After 20+ years of being called the SJMSBL All-Star Game, the League has renamed the annual event to the Dave Nicewonger All-Star Classic in remembrance of our Umpire in Chief who lost his battle with cancer earlier this year.
The night began with player introductions and then the announcer read the following tribute to our former Umpire in Chief.
Earlier this year the San José MSBL lost one of our baseball family as Umpire in Chief Dave Nicewonger lost his long battle with cancer. Dave served as the Umpire in Chief for the San José MSBL for the past 15 years and was one of the finest NCAA umpires in Northern California.
Dave served his country in the armed services, was very involved in various community organizations and lived his life making others feel better.
The San José MSBL All-Star Game has been renamed the Dave Nicewonger Classic in his honor.
At this time we would like everyone to join in a moment of silent tribute in memory of our favorite umpire and friend Dave Nicewonger.
Steve Connolly (Royals-18) got the start for the American All-Stars and quickly put together one of the more dominating pitching performances in All-Star history. Connolly faced the minimum six batters over his two innings of work striking out five and allowing the only bat-placed-on-ball to be an easy flyout to center by Larkin Castenada (Phillies-18).
On the other side, Jordan Romero (Reds-18) had a shaky start before settling down for his own impressive outing. Chris Rains (Orioles) beat out an infield single in the hole between short and third. Rains made two quick steal attempts but had to return to first as his Oriole teammate Chris Conroy kept fouling off pitches. No matter as the winded Rains was given second base when Romero threw a wild pitch. Romero finally settled down and struck out Conroy reaching for what looked like a nice outside slider. Rodney Lopez' (White Sox) one hopper to second was the second out, moving Rains to third where he was stranded when Ben Hartshorn (Red Sox) struck out to end the inning.
Romero's second inning of work was a much more impressive 3-up, 3-down as he struck out Ron Bellestri (White Sox) on a called third strike to start the inning. Jeff Canter (Royals-18) grounded to short and pablo Gutierrez (Indians) grounded to third to quickly finish off the inning.
Scoreless after two innings.
The top of the third inning saw the National All-Stars go three up, three down as Bobby Straight (Indians) induced ground outs from Rob Born (Brewers), Chad King (Padres), and Karl Holkesvig (Phillies-18). The American All-Stars didn't put up much of a fight either in the bottom half of the inning as new pitcher Jon Norris (Astros) got Jeff Arroyo (Yankees) to fly to right and struck out Bryan Venturini (Tigers) looking. After a two-out walk to Bobby Straight, Norris got Rains to ground to third for the final out.
Scoreless after three innings.
Dominating pitching continued in the top of the fourth for the American All-Stars as Raleigh Nelson (White Sox) took the mound and got ground outs from Ryan Czajkowski (Pirates) and David Painter (Braves) and a popout to second by Jarrod Ezquibel (Cubs-18).
The American All-Stars had a huge scoring opportunity in the bottom of the fourth. Don Chambers (Giants) was on the mound for his inning of duty. Brent McClintock (Tigers) started the inning with an infield hit near third. Chambers then walked Charlie Gutierrez (Indians) and Rich Rodrigues (Royals-18) to fill the bases with nobody out. Seemingly ready to blow the game open, the American All-Stars wilted. Jonathan Gutierrez (Yankees) was given new life as the third baseman dropped his foul popup, but Gutierrez didn't take advantage of it and struck out swinging for the first out. James Nunez (Rays) put an end to it all when he lined a shot to first baseman Jeremy Kirby (Mets-18) who tagged Rodrigues for an unassisted double play.
Scoreless after four innings.
Raleigh Nelson continued on the mound in the top of the fifth. Steve Goldberg (Reds-18) started off the inning with a high chopper that the third baseman couldn't quite bare hand. It was a tough play and Goldberg was awarded a hit. Jeremy Kirby flied to left for the first out. Greg Hancock (Astros) was at the plate when Goldberg stole second and moved to third when Rich Rodriques' throw ended up in center field. Hancock knocked in the first run scoring Goldberg with a sacrifice fly to center. Matt Frandsen (Giants) ended the inning striking out, but the damage was done as the National All-Stars grabbed the first lead.
Ryan Czajkowski (Pirates) took the mound in the bottom of the inning. John Pardo (Mariners) grounded the first pitch to short for the first out. Tony Lorensen (Mariners) flied to center for the second out. The American All-Stars came close to rallying with two outs as Jamal Fulton (Rays) was safe at first after the third baseman made his second error of the night booting a ground ball and then throwing the ball away at first. Fulton quickly moved to second as Czajkowski threw a wild pitch. Eric Pini (Royals-18) walked. Czajkowski threw his second wild pitch of the inning putting Fulton on third and Pini on second. The American All-Star rally wilted once again, though, as Angelo Cordero (Orioles) struck out with two runners in scoring position to end the inning.
National All-Stars lead 1-0 after five innings.
Yankee pitcher Lambert Calvert took over on the mound in the sixth. Gabriel Resendez (Braves) flied to right for the first out. Calvert walked Robbie Apodaca (Astros), but then got Chad King (Padres) to pop out to third. With two outs, Calvert wild pitched Apodaca to second and then gave up the first solid hit of the inning, a run-scoring double down the left field line by Don Chambers (Giants). Steve Ashley (Brewers) ended the top of the inning with a line out to left field.
Paul Codiga (Braves), a veteran to the All-Star mound, started his two inning outing giving up a shot over the left fielder's head by Chris Conroy (Orioles) that went to the wall for a double. Once again the American All-Star scoring opportunity wilted as Codiga struck out Rodney Lopez (White Sox), got Hartshorn to fly to center, and got Ron Bellistri (White Sox) to ground out to second.
National All-Stars lead 2-0 after six innings.
Kyle Bennett (Indians) took the mound in the top of the seventh. Eric Brown (Pirates) started the inning with a strikeout. Jason Lykam (Diamondbacks-18) smacked a single that fell in between center and right. Adrian Flint (Diamondbacks-18) hit a ground ball that went through shortstop Straight's legs for an error putting runners on first and second. Steve Monigold (Mets-18) hit a high bouncer off the outstretched glove of the third baseman for an infield hit that loaded the bases with one out. Bennett was his own worst enemy as he wild pitched in Lykam from third for the National's third run and moved Flint to third and Monigold to second. Danny Dyer (Phillies-18) hit a sacrifice fly to center scoring Flint. José Rodriguez (Reds-18) continued Bennett's nightmare by hitting a first pitch line drive single to right scoring Monigold from second. A walk to Frankie Rodriguez (Cubs-18) ended Bennett's night as he was yanked and replaced by Cole Gummere (Royals-18). Gummere put an end to the scoring when he got Resendez to ground to third forcing José Rodriguez for the third out, but the damage was done as the National All-Stars had put up another three runs.
Codiga returned to the mound for his second inning and once again started off shaky with a walk to Jeff Canter (Royals-18). Codiga tried picking off Canter but it backfired as the first baseman threw away the return throw allowing Canter to move to second. Tony Anderson (Red Sox) benefitted from confusion in the infield as his popup dropped untouched for a hit near the mound. Jeff Arroyo (Yankees) struck out for the first out of the inning. The National All-Stars made their second error of the inning when the shortstop booted Bryan Venturini's (Tigers) grounder, filling the bases. The American All-Stars finally put up their first run when Bobby Straight grounded back to pitcher Codiga who threw to second, but the National All-Stars couldn't turn the double play. Canter scored and Straight ended up on first with a fielder's choice. Chris Rains (Orioles) ended the inning popping out to short, but the American All-Stars were on the board.
National All-Stars lead 5-1 after seven innings.
Gummere returned to the mound in the top of the eighth with a solid start getting both Robbie Apodaca and Chad King on called third strikes. After that, things started falling apart. Don Chambers hit a grounder to third and the third baseman's throw pulled the first baseman off the bag for an error. Things got worse as Gummere wild pitched Chambers to second and walked Steve Ashley (Brewers) and Eric Brown (Pirates) to load the bases. That was it for Gummere as he was replaced by Eric Pini (Royals-18). The defense wasn't any better for Pini as Jason Lykam's pop to short, which should have been the third out, was dropped and with runners going on two outs, both Chambers and Ashley scored two more runs for the Nationals. Pini finally got out of the inning when Adrian Flint grounded to short, forcing Lykam at second.
John Hadley (Brewers) took the mound for the National All-Stars in the bottom of the eighth. Brent McClintock (Tigers) popped to third for the first out. Charlie Gutierrez (Indians) took first on a walk. The biggest pitching mistake of the night occurred next when 50-year-old Hadley hung a curve ball that 36-year-old Rich Rodrigues (Royals-18) promptly deposited over the left field fence with a two-run blast. Jonathan Gutierrez (Yankees) tried keeping the rally going by lining a single up the middle, but then he was wiped off the bases when Don Chambers made the defensive play of the night, diving and grabbing James Nunez's (Rays) smashed grounder to third and throwing from his knees to second to force Gutierrez. John Pardo (Mariners) ended the inning hitting a one-hopper to second for the third out.
National All-Stars lead 7-3 after eight innings.
Eric Pini finished off the night on the mound for the American All-Stars as the game moved to the top of the ninth. Steve Monigold (Mets-18) grounded out to third and Danny Dyer (Phillies-18) struck out for the first two outs. After a walk to Rob Born (Brewers), Pini got José Rodriguez (Reds-18) to ground out to short for the third out.
Knuckleballer Jay Loughran (Brewers) was the final National All-Star pitcher. Tony Lorensen (Mariners) was first up and grounded to third for the first out. Loughran gave the American All-Stars some hope by walking Jamal Fulton (Rays) and Eric Pini, but they couldn't get the ball out of the infield as Angelo Cordero (Orioles) popped to third and Lambert Calvert (Yankees) grounded out to first to end the game.
National All-Stars win 7-3.