Skip to content
Phillies
Link copied to clipboard

Reading Phillies play big role in Eastern League All-Star Game

READING - A stand-up double, a hot-dog-flinging man riding a fake ostrich, T-shirt guns, T-shirt slingshots, men in American-flag body suits sweeping the dirt, two singles, inflatable mascots boogying in front of the home dugout, two girls in fairy costumes cleaning home plate with a cartoonishly large toothbrush, a fan in a sumo suit jumping off a trampoline onto another fan in a sumo suit, pregame fireworks, postgame fireworks. Oh, and a walk-off win.

The Eastern League All-Star Game was held at FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading. (Reading Eagle/AP)
The Eastern League All-Star Game was held at FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading. (Reading Eagle/AP)Read more

READING - A stand-up double, a hot-dog-flinging man riding a fake ostrich, T-shirt guns, T-shirt slingshots, men in American-flag body suits sweeping the dirt, two singles, inflatable mascots boogying in front of the home dugout, two girls in fairy costumes cleaning home plate with a cartoonishly large toothbrush, a fan in a sumo suit jumping off a trampoline onto another fan in a sumo suit, pregame fireworks, postgame fireworks. Oh, and a walk-off win.

Reading Phillies shortstop Troy Hanzawa drew a two-out walk in the bottom of the ninth inning and later scored the winning run as the Eastern Division beat the Western Division, 5-4, in the Eastern League All-Star Game at FirstEnergy Stadium on Wednesday night. Fans came to see the tongue-in-cheek promotions so often found at minor-league games as well as players who could fill out the big-league Phillies' future rosters. A league-high six Reading Phillies played in the double-A game.

Hanzawa entered in the sixth inning as a defensive replacement, and he drew walks in both his plate appearances. In the latter occasion, he approached the batter's box with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

Hanzawa worked the count full, fouled off several pitches from Hector Nelo (Nationals prospect), and eventually drew a walk. He advanced to third on a single by Kevin Mahoney (Yankees) and then scored on a game-ending hit by Eric Campbell (Mets) that sent the rest of the Eastern Division all-stars springing out of the dugout to celebrate.

"It's great being here," Hanzawa said. "It's exciting, just to be able to play with all the guys, the talent that's here."

Campbell's hit was especially important, as the game would have ended in a tie if the Eastern Division did not score in the ninth inning. Reading manager Dusty Wathan, who also coached the East team, supported that rule.

"We're here to protect the players," he said. "We're not going to throw guys too much. It's just an exhibition game. I think everybody got an exciting game. If it ends in a tie, it ends in a tie."

Before the game, Wathan scribbled the names of four of his own players into his starting lineup: catcher Sebastian Valle, first baseman Darin Ruf, second baseman Cesar Hernandez, and leftfielder Leandro Castro.

The group batted a combined 3 for 8 with a double, a walk, and a hit-by-pitch.

They were most productive in the third inning. Hernandez reached on a bloop single to left field, and Ruf followed by pounding the ball in the same direction. It ricocheted off the outfield wall, and Ruf reached second standing up.

Hernandez and Ruf scored later in the inning, and Castro also reached on a single through the left side of the infield, though he did not advance.

Valle, the catcher, was the best Phillies prospect on the field Wednesday, and the organization's third-best minor- league player overall, according to Baseball America. At the plate he was quiet, drawing a walk and watching as Western Division rightfielder Chris Rahl robbed him of a potential double.

Reading pitcher Jordan Whatcott entered a 4-4 game in the top of the ninth. He threw only 11 pitches in a perfect two-thirds of an inning, striking out Rahl and inducing a groundout from Robbie Widlansky (Orioles).

After the game, Eastern Division players pied Campbell in the face, children danced in the infield, and fans painted the outfield neon yellow with tennis balls they tossed at the public address announcer's instruction. Then, everyone went home, preparing for another half a season of minor-league baseball, and the future beyond that.