MINNEAPOLIS – Flagstaff catcher Elias Diaz connected on a key three-run home run as the South League won its second All-Star Game in three seasons with a 5-3 victory.
Diaz had two hits and scored twice in becoming the third Elk player to earn MVP honors, joining Bobby Crosby (2006) and Rich Harden (2009). The SL victory trimmed the North’s advantage in the series to 10-8.
Louisville’s Max Scherzer, the second of the South’s 10 pitchers, earned the victory with two strikeouts in his one inning.
Pittsburgh first baseman Freddie Freeman, a former All-Star MVP, was the only player with two hits for the North. He staked the NL to an early 1-0 lead with an RBI double after Boston’s Jeff McNeil drew a walk from Dublin’s Jacob deGrom to start the game.
But the South pulled even in the second when Guinness first baseman tripled off Ottawa’s Blake Snell with one out and scored on a double by Tijuana’s Brandon Nimmo.
Diaz started the SL’s go-ahead rally an inning later by greeting Vancouver’s Chris Sale with a leadoff single. After two ground outs moved Diaz to third, the Long Rifles’ Francisco Lindor singled through the right side to make it 2-1.
After Nimmo drew a one-out walk from the Cobras’ Cole Hamels in the fourth, Oakland’s Justin Turner singled back up the middle to put runners on the corners. Diaz then drove an 0-2 pitch over the wall in right field for a 5-1 advantage.
While the South managed just one more hit against the final five NL pitchers, the North could not battle all the way back. Brooklyn’s Trevor Story plated Freeman with a double off Flagstaff’s Kyle Freeland in the fifth, and the Cubs’ Dee Gordon reached on an error in the seventh before scoring on a single by Calgary’s Max Muncy.
But Dublin’s Brad Hand retired five of the six batters he faced in the eighth and ninth and Oakland’s Edwin Diaz notched the save by striking out Muncy to end the game.