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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, June 19, 2018 10:40 pm

TinCaps pitch well, Eastern Division wins All-Star Game

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

How it Happened

LANSING, Mich. – The game went into the 10th inning tied at 2 and seemed ready to end in a tie, but Montrell Marshall saved the day. The Dayton Dragons outfielder singled to right with two outs and a runner on second in the bottom of the inning to drive in Dayton teammate Stuart Fairchild and give the Eastern Division a 3-2 walk-off victory.

The TinCaps' four All-Stars were involved in the game from the first pitch. Left-hander Aaron Leasher, who hadn't started for the TinCaps since May 29 (he's made three appearances out of the bullpen since then), started the game for the Eastern Division. Since the East was the home team in the game, Leasher took the mound to begin the game.

The 6-foot-3 Leasher faced 2017 No. 1 overall pick Royce Lewis to open the contest and Lewis greeted him with a solid single to left field. The 19-year-old phenom then stole second base, putting the TinCaps' starter in a jam early. After that, however, Leasher settled in. He got the next three hitters in order, including a swinging strikeout of cleanup hitter Elehuris Montero. Montero came into the game hitting .307 with seven homers.

In the bottom of the inning, the Eastern Division took an early lead against West starter Patrick Sandoval. Lansing's Kevin Vicuna led off and drew a loud roar from the home crowd when he laced a double to the gap in left-center. Bowling Green shortstop Taylor Walls hit next and lined a single back through the middle, letting Vicuna slide home safely with the game's first run, five pitches into the inning. 

The score was still 1-0 in favor of the East when the second TinCap, left-hander Nick Margevicius, entered the game in the fourth inning. Like his spring training roommate and fellow southpaw Leasher, Margevicius had a short, solid outing. The 6-foot-5 Fort Wayne hurler needed just nine pitches to retire the side in order, preserving his team's slim lead. He didn't record any strikeouts, but he did induce Alex Kirilloff, probably the league's best hitter in the first half, to fly to center. Leasher did the same against the Cedar Rapids outfielder.

Right-hander Tommy Romero, who came in leading the Midwest League in ERA at 2.17, had no such luck against the potent Kirilloff, however. With the East leading 2-1 and two outs in the eighth, Romero entered the game. He promptly gave up a single to Yariel Gonzalez, who then took second on a wild pitch. Kirilloff, who was hitless to that point despite making some solid contact each time, pulled a single to right, scoring Gonzalez and tying the game at 2. It was the second run Gonzalez had scored.

The East extended its lead in the fifth, thanks to the South Bend Cubs' Jared Walker. Walker, who started the game hitting ninth and playing third base for the home team, faced Quad Cities' Parker Mushinki. On a 1-2 count, he turned on a pitch and laced a low line drive to right field that cleared the fence for a solo homer and put his team in front 2-0. Walker has eight homers and 15 doubles in the regular season.

The score was 2-1 in the top of the seventh when East manager Cesar Martin called on TinCaps reliever Travis Radke with two outs. Radke came on with the bases empty and induced Peoria Chiefs catcher Dennis Ortega to pop up to second. The pop-up came on the first pitch of the at-bat, so Radke threw just one pitch in his appearance. Like Leasher and Margevicius, however, he did his job. Both Radke and Margevicius qualified for holds.

Player of the Game: Kevin Vicuna, Lansing Lugnuts

Vicuna was the hometown favorite, starting at second and leading off in front of the fans he plays for all season. The 20-year-old Venezuelan was one of only two players – Moises Gomez was the other – to record two hits in the game. In addition, Vicuna also scored what turned out to be a crucial run in the first inning and finished the game 2 for 3 with a double. The Blue Jays prospect is hitting .287 this season. 

Facts and Figures

Leasher is from Mount Pleasant, Mich., which is about an hour north of Cooley Law School Stadium. Leasher threw 14 pitches in his one inning of work, 11 of them for strikes. ... TinCaps catcher Luis Campusano pinch-hit and struck out in the sixth. He went 0 for 2 and did not play in the field. ... This was the 54th All-Star Game in Midwest League history. ... This was the fourth All-Star Game played in Lansing. The game was also played here in 1997, 1999 and 2002. The 2002 game featured future MLB All-Stars Joe Mauer and Edwin Encarnacion. ... Nine different countries were represented in the game. ... 2017 No. 1 overall pick and Minnesota Twins top prospect Royce Lewis hit leadoff for the Western Division and went 1 for 2 with a stolen base. He was the youngest player in the game. ... Former Notre Dame receiver Torii Hunter Jr. started and hit seventh for the West, going 0 for 2 with a strikeout. His father, Torii Hunter, played for the Fort Wayne Wizards and is a five-time MLB All-Star. He attended the game. ... Kirilloff entered the game leading the league in homers and RBI and third in batting average. He hit third for the West, and went 1 for 4 with an RBI. ... The Bowling Green Hot Rods' Ronaldo Hernandez won the Home Run Derby with 13 homers in the final round. ... The announced attendance was 9,936, a Midwest League All-Star Game record. 

dsinn@jg.net