EVERETT – The Northwest League All-Star Game was three outs away from near perfection for the host Everett AquaSox. However, the South Division decided to spoil the party.
The South scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning to score an 8-7 come-from-behind victory over the North Division on Tuesday night before a packed crowd of 3,818 at Everett Memorial Stadium.
The North, featuring seven AquaSox players, was ahead the entire game and led 7-5 going into the ninth, with Everett relief pitcher Jose Valdivia brought in to close it out.
But the South rallied against Valdivia, with Hunter Renfroe of the Eugene Emeralds delivering what proved to be the game-winning hit.
“It was a great game, hard-fought all around,” said the South’s and Salem-Keizer’s Sam Eberle, who was named the game’s MVP after going 2-for-4 with a homer and three runs. “The North played well. Offensively and pitching-wise it was a great experience.”
Salem-Keizer’s Raymundo Montero picked up the win by pitching a perfect eighth inning.
Vancouver’s L.B. Dantzler led the North offensively, going 2 for 4 with a homer and three RBI. Vancouver teammate Justin Atkinson also homered for the North.
Valdivia ended up taking the loss, allowing three runs – one earned – in his one inning. Eberle began the South’s mischief in the top of the ninth when he led the inning off with a single up the middle. An error by Dantzler at first followed by a wild pitch put runners at second and third with nobody out. Hillsboro’s Yogey Perez-Ramos then lined an RBI single to right to cut the deficit to one, and Salem-Keizer’s Tyler Hollick ripped a sacrifice fly to right to tie it.
An out and a hit batter brought Renfroe to the plate with runners at the corners and two down. Renfroe, the San Diego Paders’ first-round pick in this year’s draft, then lined a single to left to give the South its first lead of the game.
The North then went meekly in the bottom of the ninth, being set down 1-2-3. Boise’s Tyler Bremer got the final out to earn the save.
Home run derby
Sean Dwyer came into the Northwest League’s Home Run Derby as the big underdog, considering the Tri-City Dust Devils outfielder had just one homer in 36 games.
But that didn’t prevent Dwyer from pulling off the upset.
Dwyer held off the Everett AquaSox’s Phillips Castillo and the Eugene Emeralds’ Hunter Renfroe in the final round to win Tuesday’s derby, which preceded the Northwest League All-Star Game at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Dwyer’s two homers leading off the final round turned out to be enough, as Castillo managed just one and Renfroe was shut out. The players were allowed seven outs.
“No chance, none at all,” was what Dwyer told the crowd about what he though his chances were beforehand.
“This is one of the most exciting things (in my baseball career),” Dwyer added. “I was nervous out there.”
Though Dwyer had just one homer in 122 at bats coming in, he had the advantage of being a left-hander and therefore aiming at Everett Memorial Stadium’s short right-field porch, while right-handers Castillo and Renfroe had to get the ball further hitting toward left.
Dwyer pocketed $500 for the victory, and he also earned $2,500 for the Everett Boys & Girls Club, which was his designated charity.