The return of the West Coast League All-Star Game was a huge hit. Fans, players, coaches and scouts enjoyed a full evening of entertainment that included a rousing home run derby, exciting game and spectacular fireworks show.
The league’s midsummer classic was nearly a sellout at Goss Stadium in Corvallis as 2,517 fans attended the game, including 24 Major League Baseball scouts with representatives from the Angels, A’s, Mariners, Orioles, Red Sox, Yankees, Indians, Royals, Twins, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Giants, Padres, Rockies, Astros, Brewers, Cubs, Pirates, Braves, Marlins and Phillies.
The festivities started with a home run derby that featured an impressive power display in the first round that included 34 home runs.
Sean Myrom of Corvallis, Turner Gill of Klamath Falls, Elliot Stewart of Walla Walla and Royce Bollinger of Bend advanced to the semi-finals as Myrom (Concordia) blasted 7 homers and Gill (Portland), Stewart (Cal Poly) and Bollinger (Gonzaga) all hammered 5 dingers.
In the semis, Myrom and Bollinger advanced both hitting 4 home runs.
The finals saw the hometown slugger, Myrom, win the derby with a walk-off homer, as Sean hit second, beating Bollinger 2 homers to 1 home run.
“It felt really good to win at home,” Myrom said. “I could really feel the fans’ energy. I didn’t want to let them down.”
The WCL All-Star Game that followed was just as exciting as the East beat the West 4-2 in a very played ball game.
Following the contest, Carl Moesche of the Major League Scouting Bureau named (as voted on by MLB scouts) Cowlitz outfielder Spencer O’Neill the game’s Most Valuable Player, as O’Neill, a frosh-to-be at Oregon and 33rd round draft pick of the New York Yankees, homered and went 3-for-4.
Corvallis hurler Ben Wetzler of Oregon State was named the game’s top prospect by the scouts.
Elliot Stewart hit a 2-run double in the seventh inning to clinch the game for the East. Stewart’s hit scored Kelowna’s Bo Folkinga (Western Oregon) and Wenatchee’s Pat Valaika (UCLA) with runs that loomed large when the West scored once in the ninth on an RBI double by MVP Spencer O’Neil to draw within 4-2.
Corvallis Knights third baseman Jimmy Allen (Cal Poly) followed with a single to put the tying runs at the corners. However, Walla Walla’s Brett Watson (Walla Walla CC) induced a grounder up the middle by Phillies 5th round pick Mitch Walding of Cowlitz, and East shortstop Valaika started a 6-3 double play to end the game.
O’Neill homered, doubled, singled and drove in both runs for the West. Bollinger also had three hits and Allen had two hits.
The East scored twice in the third on an RBI triple by Walla Walla’s Alex Stanford (Gonzaga) and Wenatchee’s Breland Almadova’s (Hawaii) sacrifice fly. O’Neil hit a solo homer in the bottom half and the game stayed 2-1 until Stewart’s big hit in the seventh.
No one for the East had more than one hit, but three of their five safeties went for extra bases.
The 2012 All-Star Game is scheduled for Walla Walla.
# WCL All-Star Game Home Run Derby first round stats (in hitting order): Turney Gill (Portland) of Klamath Falls 5, Kyle Pearson (LSU-Shreveport) of Kelowna 2, Matt Forgatch (Denison) of Kitsap 3, Elliot Stewart (Cal Poly) of Walla Walla 5, Spencer O’Neil (Oregon) of Cowlitz 4, Jeff Gelalich (UCLA) of Bellingham 1, Royce Bollinger (Gonzaga) of Bend 5, Adam Nebulowich (Washington State) of Wenatchee 2 and Sean Myrom (Concordia) of Corvallis 7.
West Coast League selects Walla Walla as site for 2012 All-Star Game.
Following the highly-heralded 2011 West Coast League All-Star Game in Corvallis, Oregon, the 2012 WCL All-Star Game will be held at Borleske Stadium in Walla Walla, Washington.
“Everyone was pleased with the job the Corvallis Knights did in presenting the 2011 All-Star Game,” said league president Ken Wilson. “The huge crowd enjoyed the game, 24 Major League Scouts were there, and it’s clear the All-Star Game will be a big part of our West Coast League season for many years to come.”
The West Coast League has held four All-Star Games, starting in Wenatchee in 2006. The 2007 game was played in Bellingham, while Moses Lake hosted the 2008 contest. The 2011 All-Star Game in Corvallis marked the return of the game following a two-year hiatus.
“Walla Walla is excited to be selected to host the 2012 WCL All-Star Game,” said Walla Walla Sweets general manager Zachary Fraser. “We look forward to building on the incredibly successful event that Corvallis staged this week, and will welcome the baseball world to our town for what will be a wonderful showcase.”
The 2012 WCL All-Star Game will be played on Tuesday, July 24th.
The West Coast League All-Star Game features the stars of the season and the top professional prospects in the league. Players are selected by fan voting, Major League Baseball scouts, and voting by league coaches.