Tucson Toros baseball
Not so Golden: Northern League defeats GBL in All-Star Game
NL scores five in first three innings
Since the beginning of the Golden Baseball League’s sixth season in May, the players collected in the home dugout had only faced each other.
On Wednesday night it was different.
Representatives of the 10 teams in the GBL faced one of the country’s premier independent baseball leagues, the Northern League, in the International All-Star Game at Hi Corbett Field.
The Northern League, made up of eight teams in the Midwest area jumped on the GBL early and won 9-3 in the first of back-to-back All-Star Games.
“We tried very hard and the first inning was very rough,” said Lino Garcia, one of Tucson’s five representatives. “They jumped on us early and by the time we tried to come back, it was already too late.
“It’s a little different than other all-star games because we faced guys that we had never seen before. We tried to keep our patience and see a good pitch to hit. We have respect for their league and they proved it today with their hitting.”
Garcia led the Toros hitters, finishing 1-for-3 with a double and a run in the lopsided game.
The Northern League wasted no time opening the game. The first five batters all reached on hits off of Maui’s Wes Etheridge, who has paced the GBL, giving up less than a run a game.
The three runs tied the number of runs he gave up in his combined 40-plus innings this season.
“We just came out swinging, like we do in the Northern League,” said the game’s MVP Jason James, who led all hitters, going 2-for-3 and driving in two runs. “We just get up there and hack and whatever happens, happens. I feel like our league is one of the independent leagues that you can find.”
Facing a 5-0 deficit entering the fourth inning, the GBL was able to finally get on the board when Chico Outlaws catcher Mike Rose drove in Yuma Scorpions Tim Rodriguez who had singled and moved into scoring position on a steal.
The GBL was able to close within three runs the next inning when Outlaws J.J. Sherrill was driven in by Orange County Flyer Jimmy Rohan to cut the lead to 5-2.
“It was my first all-star game and I didn’t know what to expect,” said Toros shortstop Ryan Priddy. “I was soaking it all in and was just trying to enjoy everything. You play against (all the guys in the league) and you’re competition against them. Competition brings out the good competitor in people.
“Having them in your locker room on your team is a lot different. You get to actually get to know the guys and see that they love the game like you do.”
In the seventh inning, the NL opened the flood gates and put the game out of reach when Lake County Fielders’ third baseman hit a bases loaded triple down the right field line that put them up 9-2.
In the bottom of the ninth, Garcia and Chico Outlaws J.J. Sherrill hit back-to-back doubles to pull back within six, but Rockford River Hawks pitcher Scott Roehl closed the door, ending the game on a flyout.
“I felt ready for tonight and I enjoy working for this opportunity,” said Toros closer Emiliano Fruto, who finished with an inning pitched and struck out two.
“There wasn’t any pressure, it was the same way I come in during a regular season game. I know a lot of the guys and we had a great time (in the dugout). We were very happy we got a lot of Toros representitives.”
Including Fruto, Toros pitchers Andrew Snowdon and John Bannister, who was a late addition, pitched three innings and combined for five strikeouts and issued two walks.