The South ended an eight-game losing streak against the North Tuesday night at Smokies Park in the Southern League All-Star Game. The North started out strong as Danny Hultzen threw a shutout inning and Denny Almonte hit a home run in the bottom of the first inning.
"When Almonte hit that leadoff homer, I thought we were going to score a lot of runs," said Buddy Bailey, North manager and skipper of the host Tennessee Smokies.
However, Mobile BayBears right fielder Alfredo Marte had two hits, an RBI and scored another to help the South overcome the deficit on the way to a 6-2 victory. Marte was rewarded with Most Valuable Player honors for his efforts.
South manager Turner Ward of the BayBears applauded Marte's production on the field.
"He has carried us at some points. He's had a lot of big hits and played outstanding defense. He was definitely worthy of winning the MVP."
In addition to Marte doing well offensively, Hultzen stood out on the mound. In fact, he did so well that he was promoted to Triple-A the following day. The Mariners prospect has a 27 2/3 scoreless innings streak. Bailey took notice of the standout's results.
"When you see a guy dominating at this level and it is his first year, you've got something special," Bailey said.
Hultzen started out with a strikeout of Ryan LaMarre of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. Then, he walked Mobile's David Nick. However, he rebounded nicely to get Matt Davidson of the BayBears to hit into a double play.
"I'm always happy to throw as few pitches as possible if I get outs," said Hultzen.
South starting pitcher Tyler Skaggs of Mobile didn't start out as well as Hultzen as he gave up the home run to Almonte. Fortunately for the South, it scored three runs in the second to take the lead for good. Marte started off with a double off of Chattanooga's Matt Magill. After Montgomery's Kyeong Kang walked, Mississippi's Todd Cunningham got a single to drive in Marte. Steve Ames took the mound to try to stop the bleeding, but he gave up a single to Jacksonville's Kyle Skipworth loaded the bases.
The South went up two runs when Generals shortstop Nick Franklin committed a throwing error. The South got up by four runs when Nick got a triple, then Generals catcher Jesus Sucre made an error on a pickoff attempt. Cunningham's error helped Jim Adduci of the Smokies get an RBI in the fifth. The South bounced back with a run of their own by Mobile's Marc Krauss after he got a double then reached home on two wild pitches. Skaggs took the win as Magill took the loss.
Jackson Generals outfielder Joe Dunigan bounced back from a disappointing showing in 2009 to come back and win the Home Run Derby. He barely beat out Smokie Justin Bour in an extra round. Both got five home runs in the first round, but Bour only managed one in the extra round.
"Joe is obviously one of the strongest guys and best home run hitters in the league," said Bour, who won last year's
Home Run Derby. "I gave him a run for his money, but I should have hit a couple more in that last round. Still, it was fun."
Dunigan is third in the league with 12 home runs, while Bour leads the league in RBIs with 52.
The Smokies have a five-game series in Jacksonville with the Suns this weekend.