By Mike Kilroy
BUTLER, Pa. —
Chris Martin has been around the Prospect League block a few times.
“I’m the old man of the league,” the Quincy manager said, smiling.
Martin has been at the helm of the Gems for seven seasons and 10 total as a coach and a player dating back to club’s time in the Central Illinois Collegiate League.
He has never seen the pitching in the league as good as it has been this year.
Martin got a first-hand look at all those dominating arms as the manager of the West Division in the Prospect League All-Star Game won by the East Division 2-1 at Pullman Park Wednesday night.
The only thing that was hotter than the temperature on a steamy night in Western Pennsylvania was the pitchers.
“The pitching in the league in general since I’ve been involved, which has been a long time, continues to get better year after year,” Martin said.
The East got all the runs it needed in the first inning thanks to key contributions by two Butler players, Ryan Fitzgerald and Matt Peters.
Fitzgerald singled and scored and Peters also singled, setting up a RBI fielder’s choice groundout by Slippery Rock first baseman Matthew Calhoun and a RBI double by Chillicothe designated hitter Dan Zuchowski to plate the only two runs scored by the East.
Zuchowski was named the game’s MVP.
“It feels great,” said the native of Hamtramck, Mich., and sophomore at the University of Toledo. “I played in the All-Star Game last year, but didn’t quite get the MVP. I came back this year, still playing for Chillicothe, and I was just going up there looking for something good to hit and I ended up driving one in the gap.”
Both runs were charged to Troy Conyers, a left-handed pitcher for Danville.
The East didn’t get another hit after the second inning.
West Virginia pitcher Jaesung Hwang started for the East and cruised through his one inning of work.
Hwang, a native of Cumming, Ga., leads the Prospect League with an 0.39 ERA in 46 innings of work this season.
“That’s typical of Jaesung,” said Butler and East manager Anthony Rebyanski. “We’ve seen it all year.”
The West managed just three hits against 10 East pitchers.
Andrew Marra of Chillicothe got the save, striking out one batter in the ninth.
“Usually in a game like this, if you can put up a crooked number in any inning, it’s usually enough,” Martin said.
Notes: Calhoun won the home run derby, outlasting Thomas Richards of Quincy. Richards hit nine home runs in the first round. Calhoun needed just three in the finals, though, to best him. ... Butler center fielder Taylor Schmidt, who leads the league in stolen bases with 27, swiped second after drawing a walk in the first inning. ... There were 20 pitchers used in the game.
West 000 100 000 — 1 3 0
East 200 000 000 — 2 4 1
W: Jaesung Hwang 1IP (0K, 0BB). L: Troy Conyers 1IP (0K, 1BB). SV: Andrew Marra 1IP (1K, 0BB)
West: Kyle Kempf 3B R, Chet Simoneaux 1B, Tyler Wampler RBI, Casey Fletcher 1B
East: Ryan Fitzgerald 1B R, Matt Peters 1B, Matthew Calhoun RBI, Dan Zuchowski 2B RBI, Kaeo Aliviado 1B