By: Brandon Vickrey
Whiting, Ind. – July 15, 2018 – On a night where both lineups were stacked with the top talent the Midwest Collegiate League had to offer, it was the men on the mound who became the story in the annual MCL All-Star Game on Tuesday night at Oil City Stadium.
When it was all said and done, 11 different pitchers enjoyed scoreless, hitless outings as the MCL West All-Stars topped the MCL East All-Stars 6-3 in 11 innings.
Bloomington’s Zach Frey was the winning pitcher with two perfect innings of relief. He struck out four of the six batters he faced and needed only 19 pitches to hold the East scoreless in the ninth and 10th innings. For his efforts, Frey was named the 2018 MCL All-Star Game MVP.
“It was awesome seeing all the fans come out and watch,” Frey said. “That meant everything. The fans are the reason we’re here. Being in the All-Star Game and playing with this group of guys was awesome. I commanded my fastball early, which allowed me to throw my slider for a strike. Lefties rolled over on changeups; everything was working for me tonight.”
The victorious West team mustered up only five hits, while the East squad scratched out six.
“In an All-Star Game, every inning is like the top of the first,” East manager Dave Letourneau said. “It’s the best pitchers in the league against the best hitters, but good pitching always beats good hitting in my opinion. When you have the best pitchers in the league on the mound, nine out of 10 times hitters are going to lose that battle. Every at-bat is must-watch on a night like tonight.”
Andy Lopez (Southland) doubled and scored on a single by Nick Figus (Northwest Indiana) in the second inning to put the East on the board first. They expanded the lead to three by scoring twice in the fifth, an inning that featured an RBI double by Dashon Moore (Southland). A three-run uprising for the West highlighted by a Billy Mote (Bloomington) run-scoring double in the sixth leveled the score, and the game remained tied through the regulation nine innings. The West pushed across three runs in the top of the 10th.
“Some of our guys were a little nervous in the first couple innings, but they settled in,” West manager Jake Wegner said. “Overall, it was a great team victory. It was extremely fun to have all the teams together in the dugout. It was a fun night regardless of the outcome.”
Starting pitcher Anthony Rogers (Southland) worked two scoreless frames for the East, while Christian Howell (Northwest Indiana), Stephen Gilbertsen (Crestwood), Chase Pearce (Southland), Jackson Shepherd (Crestwood) and Chad Patrick (Northwest Indiana) all threw shutout innings. In fact, none of those six hurlers surrendered a hit to the West team, which didn’t scratch out a base knock until the sixth inning.
The West had five pitchers who did not allow a run or a hit: Alex Herbst (Joliet), Carter Lawler (Joliet), James Raffauf (DuPage County), Quinn Gudaitis (Bloomington), Nick Watson (Bloomington) and Frey.
A good crowd was on hand, making for a great atmosphere for the annual showcase of the MCL’s brightest stars.
“This atmosphere was outstanding,” Letourneau said. “It’s great for the kids to play in front of a great crowd. Everybody can mesh together; you’re used to facing each other and competing against each other every single day, and then you’re teammates for a day. It’s an outstanding night for everybody.”
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