By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
Tuesday night’s MLB All-Star game once again decided homefield advantage for the World Series. The same thing will happen tonight at the fifth annual Prospect League All-Star game in Butler, Pa.
The best players from the East Division will take on those from the West Division. The winning team will lock up homefield advantage for whichever team represents its division in the league championship series next month.
The East-leading West Virginia Miners will have a say in how things work out.
Pitcher Jaesung Hwang will start for the East opposite Troy Conyers of the Danville Dans. Hwang earned the start with a dominant first half.
Hwang (5-1) leads the league with a 0.39 earned run average. He has 38 strikeouts to just three walks and has allowed 25 hits — 23 of them singles — in 46 innings. Opponents are hitting .160 against him. He has three complete games in six starts.
“With those numbers, you can’t deny what he has done,” Miners manager Tim Epling said. “He deserves to be there.
“He has four pitches (fastball, cutter, curveball and slider) that he throws for strikes on any count. That’s what makes him so good. Whether the count is 3-1 or 2-0 or whatever, he understands what he can do to mess with hitters’ timing.”
Hwang will be the second West Virginia pitcher to start an all-star game. Andrew Smith was the starter in 2011, when the game was played at Linda K. Epling Stadium.
Also starting from the Miners will be Kaeo Aliviado in left field. The University of Hawaii product is hitting a league-leading .366 on the season, and is second with 29 runs scored.
“Kaeo can make it work from the left side of the plate and the right side,” Epling said. “He has been one of the most consistent hitters we have. He doesn’t just hit to one part; he goes to all fields. He takes good swings at pitches, and that’s what makes him so consistent.”
Zach Woolcock was elected to start at third base but suffered a groin injury in last Friday’s win over Slippery Rock and will not play. He missed West Virginia’s last three games and could be out at least another week.
Woolcock is currently third in the league at .339. He also has three home runs, eight doubles and 21 RBIs.
Pat Kregeloh made the team as a reserve. He is hitting .280 with three homers and 26 RBIs — third in the league — and is 1-1 on the mound with a 5.12 ERA.
“He hits the ball hard,” Epling said. “He can do everything — pitch, play the corners, he’s a good hitter and a good bunter. He is probably the best all-around athlete we have.”
Epling was supposed to manage the East all-stars but will not be able because of family concerns. In his place will be Anthony Rebyanski of the host BlueSox.
The game will start at 7:05 p.m., right after the Home Run Derby, set to start at 5 p.m. Gates will open at 2:30 p.m., with players going through a pro scout workout at 3 p.m.
A postgame fireworks show will close the festivities.
The West leads the all-star series 3-0-1, including a 10-1 win last season.
— E-mail: gfauber