Scrappers players shine in NYPL All Star game
NILES - Niles, Ohio isn’t usually the place to be. But for one night, it was.
At least it was for the elite of the New York-Penn League, as they gathered to take part in the New-York Penn League All-Star Game on what was a rainy August evening. Joining them were several thousand of their family members, closest friends, and biggest fans, as Eastwood Field played host to it’s first ever All-Star Game.
The Scrappers came in well represented. They were tied for the second most All-Star selections, behind only the Hudson Valley Renegades' six. Being honored for their on-field prowess for Mahoning Valley was Luis Dejesus, Joey Wendle, Joe Sever, Jacob Lee, and Charlie Valerio. Four of them cracked the starting lineup, as Valerio, Wendle, and Sever started at catcher, third, and DH respectively, while Dejesus got the starting nod on the mound.
All five earned every bit of admiration they received on Tuesday, as each has put together a fantastic season to earn their spot on the All Star roster. Dejesus has been one of the top starters in the league, flummoxing opposing swingers with pinpoint command. He currently touts an outstanding 1.93 ERA, with a 0.91 WHIP, and 36 strikeouts, good for second on the team.
“This is cool,” said Dejesus of getting the starting honors. “I’ve got my family in the stands, I’ve got my catcher Charlie [Valerio] behind home plate, it doesn’t get much than this. This is perfect right now.”
The man Dejesus trails in strikeouts is Jacob Lee, who has worked both out of the bullpen and more recently as a starter. Even pitching limited innings, Lee has racked up 40 strikeouts, giving him a strikeouts/nine innings ratio of 10.5.
“Any All-Star game is going to be fun,” Lee said. “I thought I might have a few days off, but I found out last week that I’d be playing. So it’s a lot of fun, and I’m excited about being in the game.”
Maybe the most impressive of the All-Stars has been Joey Wendle. Wendle was a virtual unknown when he was selected as a senior out of Division II West Chester College, but has impressed Scrapper faithful with his play. He leads or is near the top in most offensive categories for Mahoning Valley, putting together an impressive slash line of .323/.374/.500 with 12 doubles, four triples, and three home runs. That .500 slugging percentage is good enough to rank him fifth in the league in that category.
“This is my first year playing pro-ball,” commented Wendle. “I came from a smaller school and a smaller environment, so it’s nice to know you can play with some of the better players in the league.
Before any game-action took place, Sever got the bonus of participating in the home run derby that took place before the game. He joined fellow All-Stars Chris Serritella, John Wooten, and Wander Ramos in the contest. Sever smacked a first-round high five dingers, but eventually fell to opponent Serritella in the final round.
After the derby, intermittent rains forced the game to go into a delay, pushing the game back 50 minutes. Finally, the rains ended, allowing the tarp to be pulled and the game to start.
Dejesus started the game pitching a perfect first inning with a strikeout. Lee followed him with a perfect inning in the second, striking out two of his own.
Valerio, Wendle and Sever combined to go 2-for-6 in the game, with Sever and Wendle each snagging a single in the game.
After the Scrappers exited, the game took on a sour tone for the American League, as the National League All-Stars went on to win in blowout fashion. They scored the first run of the game in the third when Danry Vasquez delivered a sacrifice fly. Then in the fifth they stretched the lead to 3-0 when Juancito Martinez ripped an RBI single before stealing second and third and scoring on a throwing error.
The National League All-Stars cemented the game in the late innings, adding five runs in the eighth and ninth to make it 8-0. The American League’s only run came in the bottom half of the ninth, when Tyler Hanover smacked a solo home run to left field to make it 8-1 and finish the scoring in the game.
With the glitz and glamour of the All-Star game in the books, the teams now return to regular season play with only a few weeks remaining to secure a precious few playoff berths. The Scrappers resume their campaign Wednesday night, as they welcome in the Auburn Doubledays.