SOUTH BEND - A near capacity crowd at Four Winds Field in South Bend was treated to the best of the Midwest League Tuesday night as the South Bend Cubs hosted this year's All Star game for the first time since 1989.
The game was dominated by pitching with both East and West pitching staffs striking out a combined 21 hitters in the game and scattering 14 hits in the game, that ended in a 3-3 tie in regulation to ironically be decided by sudden death home run derby.
Each team chose a representative who received 90 seconds to hit as many home runs as they could. Blaze Alexander led off for the West and pulled one out of the park in his time at bat.
The East's Chris Betts, starting catcher in the game from Bowling Green, drove two out of the park in the final 30 seconds of his at bat to take the win, and be named the MVP of the game.
"It was fun," he said of ending with a home run derby win. "I finally got some fastballs, and it's always nice to get the Gatorade shower at the end."
There was a little controversy as Betts appeared to drive a tying home run out of the park early in the round but it was ruled in the park, and sent the left hander into the final 30 seconds of his at bat needing at least one to tie. In the end Betts said it was no controversy at all when asked about the ruling.
"I don't care," he said simply. "Two more went out so it doesn't matter."
The East broke through in the second on West right handed reliever Jose Soriano when Jake Brodt led off with a single, moved to second on a Miquel Vargas single. Betts loaded the bases, drawing a walk and Ulrich Bojarski pulled a fastball deep to left for a sacrifice fly and the run first run.
The West broke through in the fourth when Nolan Gorman led off with a walk from East reliever Austin Drury and then Jerar Encarnacion blasted a two run homer to right.
Encarnacion's rip would be the best swing of the night for either team as the offenses struggled.
The East answered in their half of the fourth with three straight hits to greet Matt Ruppenthal's entry on the mound and Vargas collecting his second hit of the game, an RBI double off the wall in right to tie it.
Bojarski followed with his second RBI, another sacrifice fly to left for the lead chasing Ruppenthal and bringing on Logan Gillaspie, who was able to get out of the inning with no further damage.
It was shoddy fielding that would lead to the West tying the score in the eighth as Delvin Perez hit into what looked like a sure double play but a bad throw on the turn by second baseman Andy Weber sent him to second. Perez would score when catcher Pabel Manzenero's throw on his attempt to steal third went into left field for just the second error in the game.
From there it was Betts heroics that ended the game.
The Cubs will start the second half of the season with a four game homestand with Bowling Green starting Thursday night at Four Winds Field.