California Crushes Carolina League in All-Star Classic

STOCKTON, Calif. -- Bubba Bell's bat was uncharacteristically quiet during the Home Run Derby preceding the 11th California/Carolina League All-Star Game on Tuesday at Banner Island Ballpark.
That all changed come game time.

Bell went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored as the Cal League rolled over the Carolina League, 10-5, thanks to three-run innings in the second and third.

Bell, who shares the California League lead in RBIs and is second in home runs, was named his team's Most Valuable Player.

The performance was a relief for Bell, who was the only player on either side who failed to homer during the derby.

"It was definitely disappointing not to get one ball out [during the derby]," he said. "When I came out tonight, I wasn't trying to do too much. I was just trying to see the ball as well as I could and it ended up working out."

The catalyst who helped Bell move the Cal League offense smoothly was Lake Elsinore Storm third baseman David Freese, who drew walks off Brad James and Julio Pimentel in the second and third, respectively.

Freese scored twice and drove in two runs.

The All-Star game was long on offense and short on defense, with the teams combining for six errors, four by the Carolina Leaguers.

"When I was on second base," Bell said, "a couple of their guys were saying the infield was really choppy and it was causing some bad hops."

Frederick Keys shortstop Blake Davis drove in two runs and was named MVP for the Carolina League, which stranded 13 baserunners. His only teammate to get his bat going was Jason Delaney of the Lynchburg Hillcats, who was 2-for-4 and drove in a pair of runs.

Lake Elsinore's Wade LeBlanc, who was named Pitcher of the Game, got the start and struck out two in his only inning. He threw only 11 pitches, seven for strikes.

"I knew I had a job to do coming out here," he said. "We all wanted to win this game, All-Star Game or not."

The Cal League avenged a 4-1 loss in last year's Midsummer Classic, although the Carolina League still leads the series, 5-4. Two games have ended in ties since the series' inception in 1996.

Pat Currin of the host Stockton Ports and Taylor Wilding of the San Jose Giants also starred on the mound for the Cal League. Currin struck out three, while Wilding fanned two.

Three pitchers recorded a strikeout apiece for the Carolina League -- Samuel Gervacio of the Salem Avalanche, Gilbert de la Vara of the Wilmington Blue Rocks and James Deters of the Kinston Indians.

And it wouldn't have been a game at a Cal League stadium without a couple of home runs. Rancho Cucamonga's Brad Coon hit a leadoff shot in the sixth, while Delaney homered in the eighth.

LeBlanc said the pitchers had the advantage because the hitters had not scouted the opposition and had to adapt to a new hurler each inning.

"It definitely makes it easier," he explained. "They don't know what you have and they don't know what you haven't thrown, your tendencies, things like that."

Both leagues will have plenty of time to consider nuances like that. The 2008 edition of the California/Carolina All-Star Game is set for June 24 at Myrtle Beach's Coastal Federal Field.


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