WORCESTER — There was nothing on the line at Wednesday's Futures League All-Star Game, except for divisional pride. This year, that pride goes to the players from the East Division.
Most Valuable Player Jacob Lebel tied the game with a home run to lead off the top of the ninth inning and Chase Smartt was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force home the winning run as the East beat the West 4-3 at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field.
"It was a really fun time. All the guys were super nice, and to play in front of this many people and scouts, and to compete against some of the best arms," said Pittsfield Suns outfielder Colin Gimblet. "It was a fun time."
Gimblet was one of six Pittsfield players to get a turn on the field before a Worcester record crowd of 4,319. Al Zachary and Eric Hamilton were in the starting lineup for the West All-Stars. Gimblet and Thomas Hughes both played and got two at-bats each, while pitchers Declan Cronin and Matt Cuneo both got time on the bump.
"It was a lot of fun," Zachary said of the day that started with working out in front of scouts. "Obviously, earlier the showcase in front of all the scouts trying to do your best. Coming and playing against the best talent in the Futures League is awesome."
All four Suns who swung a bat got a hit in the nine innings. Zachary hit a triple in the fourth inning and scored on a base hit by Worcester's Tom Walraven. Hamilton followed that with a single, but the West only produced one run in that inning.
Gimblet singled in the seventh inning, which helped get Worcester's Mike Coggeshall to third. Coggeshall scored on a ground out by J.D. Andreessen of Martha's Vineyard, one of two East players who performed for the West All-Stars.
The evening's festivities started with the Home Run Derby. Alex Brickman, a freshman-to-be at Siena from North Shore, set the early tone with six home runs. Hamilton, who is second to Lebel in the league's home run race, managed only five.
"It was definitely an experience," said Hamilton. "I didn't know what to expect going in. I went second going in, so I had an idea what to shoot for. Obviously, it wasn't enough."
Hamilton got the barrel on the ball for his entire three-minute stint in the batter's box. Were it a game, he might have had multiple extra-base hits. But with Suns manager Tom Conley pitching, Hamilton was unable to get into double figures.
"It's definitely tiring. It's not something I've done before," said Hamilton. "It was definitely an experience. In three minutes, I got pretty tired."
Don Walsh of Wachusett was the home run champion, while Jake Farrell of Martha's Vineyard was second.
The West had a chance to take the lead in the eighth. Hughes singled to lead off the inning, took second on a wild pitch and went to third on Zachary's grounder to first. Bristol's Tyler Roberts hit a fly to medium left. Hughes didn't tag up, but left for home when the ball sailed over the plate. Reliever Quinn DePasquale of North Shore, who got the win, caught the ball on the fly and just beat Hughes to the plate for an unusual double play.
Then in the ninth, Coggeshall reached on an error. After Gimblet lined out to first, Michael Purcell walked and Andreessen was hit by a pitch. But Martha's Vineyard closer Jake Nelson struck out Yanni Thanopoulos to end the game with the potential winning run on second.
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.