Big Inning Gives Eastern Division Victory in EL Mid-Summer Classic

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Manchester has now finished hosting its third Eastern League All-Star Game since the birth of the Fisher Cats over a decade ago, with this year’s edition seeing the Eastern Division defeating the Western Division, 7-1.

The Western Division got on the board in the second inning with a rally kicked off by Tuesday’s Home Run Derby champ, Bowie’s Aderlin Rodriguez, who hit a shot nearly reaching the Hilton Garden Inn patio in left center.

Aderlin reached second on that shot, with Akron’s Yu-Cheng Chang bringing him home on the next at-bat with a double of his own.

The West kept their lead until the bottom of the sixth. Fisher Cat first baseman Ryan McBroom tied the game up, singling home Trenton’s Thairo Estrada. Zack Zehner, also representing Trenton, brought home McBroom and Reading’s Carlos Tocci with a single on the following at-bat.

That wouldn’t be all in the sixth. Zehner narrowly beat a tag at home thanks to another single, this one by Portland’s Danny Mars, and a double from New Hampshire’s Gunnar Heidt brought home Mars and Fisher Cat Danny Jansen. Heidt would come home on Tocci’s second single of the inning.

The loss went to Erie’s Jairo Labourt, who allowed five of the Eastern Division’s runs in the sixth. Bowie’s Tanner Scott allowed one of the two other runs, although his fielding error allowed the other run to score.

The win went to Reading’s Drew Anderson, who faced just one batter over the minimum pitching the sixth and seventh. New Hampshire’s Conner Greene also pitched two innings, once again throwing fastballs reaching into triple digits.

Greene and Anderson’s stints were crucial, with the Eastern Division’s staff reduced to nine after Hartford’s Yency Almonte threw nearly 100 pitches on Sunday, leaving him unavailable for the contest.

Greene had a mixed first half of the season, but believes his performance here will help catapult him into the second half. It also reminded him of the basics he needs to pitch effectively.

“Throw more strikes. Throw low in the zone,” he said. “It’s a simple thing, it’s easier said than done, but I think my attack mentality will help me going into the second half of the season.”

Mars finished with three hits, including a double, but the game’s MVP award went to Zehner, who finished 2-for-3 on the night.

A member of the Yankees’ organization, Zehner isn’t thinking too much about trying to duplicate the feats of Yankee rookie phenom Aaron Judge, who just stole the show this week at the Major League All-Star Home Run Derby. Still, he hopes today’s performance and his work throughout the season can give him a chance to one day follow in Judge’s footsteps.

“You don’t really worry about that stuff, you go day-to-day, do your thing and get better, but we have a really good young team up there and you want to be a part of that, they’re winning up there. You see them in Spring Training, you want to break through and get up there and be a part of that.”