Dublin third baseman Jose Ramirez had the biggest hit of the night as the South League extended its hot streak in the PGBL All-Star Game.
Ramirez smacked a two-run homer off Vancouver’s Kenta Maeda in the first inning and the South never trailed in a 6-5 victory at Angel Stadium. Ramirez earned MVP honors as the game’s only long ball enabled the SL to claim its third straight win over the North and fourth in five seasons.
Michael Conforto of Memphis contributed a two-run double and had two of the South’s seven hits while Brandon Nimmo added an RBI ground out and threw a North runner out at the plate.
Melee reliever Tejay Antone left the potential tying run stranded in scoring position in the eighth and Flagstaff’s Austin Slegers induced three ground outs in a perfect ninth to finish off the win.
Starting pitcher Jacob deGrom of the Guinness, Dublin rotation mate Yu Darvish, winning pitcher Tony Gonsolin of Louisville and Antone each had two of the South’s 12 strikeouts. The NL staff racked up 11 Ks, with Maeda and Brooklyn’s Ian Anderson recording three apiece in the first two innings.
Clydesdales second baseman DJ LeMahieu opened the bottom of the first with a single to center off an 0-2 pitch from Maeda. Two batters later, Ramirez drove a full count offering over the right field wall for the early SL lead.
The NL got on the board in the third when Pittsburgh’s Anthony Rendon drew a leadoff walk from Twin City’s Zach Plesac, advanced to second on a two-out wild pitch and scored on a single by Ottawa’s Michael Brantley. Cleveland’s Willi Castro followed with a single to put runners on the corners, but Plesac escaped by getting the Cobras’ Freddie Freeman to ground out.
The North threatened again two innings later, loading the bases against Darvish with two walks sandwiched around an error, but once again Freeman grounded out to end the grame.
The SL widened its advantage in the sixth against Toronto’s Kevin Gausman. Conforto reached on a one-out infield single and Paul Goldschmidt of host Compton coaxed a walk after falling in an 0-2 hole. Tijuana’s Kyle Seager then lined a single to left that was misplayed by the Tribe’s Marcell Ozuna, allowing Conforto to score. Goldschmidt then came across on Nimmo’s grounder to make it 4-1.
But the NL had a big opportunity in the seventh against the Truckers’ Dinelson Lamet. Pinch hitting for Rendon, Pittsburgh teammate Ke’Bryan Hayes led off with a triple and Tigers catcher Will Smith promptly singled him home. After a base hit by London’s Tim Anderson, Chicago’s Tim Locastro singled up the middle but Nimmo gunned down Smith trying at the plate.
Toronto’s Jeff McNeil singled to pack the sacks and chase Lamet as the Outlawz’s Shane Bieber entered to face the Tigers’ Brandon Belt pinch-hitting for Freeman. Belt delivered an RBI single to make it 4-3, but Locastro was forced out at home on Ozuna’s grounder to Seager at third, and Bieber whiffed Wildcats DH Nelson Cruz to douse the fire.
The South then responded in the bottom half against Toronto’s Nick Anderson. Elk shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. led off with a hit and crossed over to third on a two-out single by Dublin’s Mookie Betts. Conforto then drove both runners around by greeting Arsenal lefty Jake McGee with a double over Locastro’s head in right-center.
In the top of the eighth, the Tigers’ Clint Frazier drew a leadoff walk from Antone and Cardinals catcher Yan Gomes laced a one-out double down the left-field line. Tim Anderson delivered an RBI single to shallow center and Gomes scored on an Antone balk to make it 6-5. But Locasto struck out and McNeil grounded to second to end the final NL threat.
In an All-Star Game first, brothers Aaron and Austin Nola squared off against each other in the bottom of the fourth, with the Chicago righty hitting the St. Louis catcher on the elbow with an 0-2 fastball in an otherwise uneventful frame.
The South’s win evened the series at 10-10. Ramirez became the Dublin franchise’s third player named All-Star MVP, following Key West’s Alfonso Soriano in 2005 and Alex Rodriguez three years later. Gonsolin gave the Long Rifles their second winning pitcher in three seasons, following Max Scherzer in 2019.