Yesterday afternoon, seemingly all of the Valley League converged on Memorial Stadium in Harrisonburg for the league’s all-star festivities. Many of the clubs’ front offices attended, along with the all-star participants, obviously, and many other players were there to watch their teammates. Many scouts attended as well (it was fun to see all the radar guns go up on each pitch).
After batting practice, the scouts and players moved to the outfield turf for the 60-yard dash. In what must have been a harrowing competition for some, Front Royal’s Edgar Lebron ran the fastest time.
From there, the home run derby was held. This can also be a frustrating event depending on the number of home runs hit, but Charles Town’s Bradley Jones did not disappoint. (I attended a home run derby in Woodstock many years ago in which the final score was 2-1, if I am remembering correctly. Steve McQuail finally drove a home run through the wind to claim the top honor.)
In the first round, three of the seven hitters failed to clear the fence: Austin Edens, Jonathan Corbitt, and Spencer Devine. Harrisonburg’s JJ Bissell, the only leftie in the contest, hit two, as did Woodstock’s Justin Woods. Charlottesville’s Cris Perez hit three, and Bradley Jones finally got the crowd revved up when he sent nine pitches (from his father, by the way) over the left field fence. Several of Jones’s home runs cleared the fence by at least thirty feet.
In round two, Justin Woods squeaked past Cris Perez, 3-2, setting up what seemed to be a mismatch in the final. Surprising many, Woods hit two more home runs, and Jones could not find his home run stroke, and ended up with only one.
All-star games tend to be dominated by pitching- you know, each pitcher can come out and throw as hard as he can
for an inning- but this one had nine runs and 16 total hits. The North struck first in the 3rd inning, when Bradley Jones rediscovered his home run swing, and sent an Alex Britt offering well over the left field fence for a three-run home run. The South countered with two runs in the bottom of the 3rd on a Tyler Straub (Harrisonburg) groundout and Connor Gunn sacrifice fly.
The South took the lead with three runs in the 6th when Staunton’s Jack Schaaf pulled a bases-loaded double down the right field line, scoring two, and Shane Billings followed with a sacrifice fly to left. In the top of the 7th, Josh Cushing hit an RBI single for the North, but the potential tying run was thrown out at the plate one play later by New Market’s Storm Edwards in left field. It turned out that that throw saved the game, as pitchers put up zeros from there.
Jack Schaaf was named the South MVP for his bases-loaded double, and Bradley Jones is the MVP from the North on the strength of his 3-run home run. Congratulations to both players, and to all who participated in the latest Valley League all-star game!
(Check the Facebook page later today for many, many more pictures from the night!)