Brook Fordyce had just one at-bat during which only one pitch was thrown to him Wednesday night.
He certainly made the most of it. Fordyce, a reserve catcher for the National League affiliates, needed just one pitch to give his club a 2-1 victory over their American League counterparts in the Triple-A All-Star Game at Franklin Quest Field.The 26-year-old member of the Indianapolis Indians, the top farm club of the Cincinnati Reds, blasted a fastball from Vancouver Canadians reliever Jeff Schmidt well over the left-field fence for a two-run home run in the eighth.
"Just being in the All-Star Game was a thrill, but being an MVP is something I'll remember the rest of my life," said Fordyce.
Until Fordyce came along to spoil things, it appeared the Salt Lake Buzz fan-favorites - second baseman Todd Walker and shortstop Brian Raabe - would be the heroes in an AL victory. Walker's solo homer in the bottom of the fourth gave the AL the lead much to the delight of the sellout crowd of 15,500. Raabe, meanwhile, was doing his best Ozzie Smith impersonation with several spectacular defensive plays at short.
"(Walker and Raabe) both represented the Buzz well," said Buzz manager Phil Roof, who also happened to be the AL skipper Wednesday.
The Buzz tandem actually had one last chance to be the heroes, but couldn't get the job done. They both batted in the bottom of the ninth. Phoenix Firebirds reliever Steve Mintz earned the save, however, by forcing Raabe to fly out to center before striking out Walker and Chris Stynes of the Omaha Royals to end the contest.
"The game worked out beautifully for us," said Pete Mackanin, manager of the Ottawa Lynx and the NL stars. "All of our position players got at least two at-bats except for Fordyce, which was fine for him because he ended up being the MVP."
The game, featuring 29 of the top minor-league hitters in the United States and Canada, featured very little hitting as the 12 pitchers - six for each team - ruled for the most part. The teams combined for just nine hits (five for the NL stars and four by the AL) while the pitchers struck out a combined 17 batters and were aided by several fine defensive plays on both sides.
"Pitchers tend to have an advantage in all-star games because the hitters see a different guy each time they come up and it's hard to get the timing down against pitchers you don't know much about," said Mackanin.
Just scoring a run was a concern for NL hitting coach Brad Mills, who is the manager of the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. Last season Mills was the hitting coach for the NL stars that were blanked by the AL, 9-0.
"I was worried," said Mills. "It had been 17 innings for me as the hitting coach that we'd gone scoreless in the all-star game, but then we ended up scoring twice as many runs. OK, so it was only two runs total, but it was still twice as many runs as they had."
With the AL hanging to its 1-0 lead thanks to Walker's fourth-inning blast to right, Sky Sox infielder Neifi Perez led off the eighth with a double to center off of Schmidt. Fordyce followed with his game-winning homer.
Derek Wallace of the Norfolk Tide set the AL down in order in the bottom of the eighth to earn the victory. Schmidt, who hadn't given up a home run all year until Wednesday despite pitching in the hitting-happy PCL, suffered the loss.
"That truly was a good all-star game," said Mills. "You had good pitching, good defense and a couple of home runs. You can't ask for much more than that."
ALL-STAR BRIEFS: The AL stars had just four hits total and two were by first baseman Greg Pirkl of the Tacoma Rainiers. Pirkl just missed out on his third hit of the game when a would-be homer to left went just foul in the seventh . . . All the position players on both teams saw action except for Casey Candaele of the Buffalo Bisons, who has a pulled hamstring, and Brant Brown of the Iowa Cubs, who has a broken finger . . . While both teams substituted freely, Roof kept his two Buzz stars in the game for the entire nine innings. "I'd have been booed if I had taken them out. Plus we were short on infielders," explained Roof . . . The National League now holds a 6-3 advantage over the AL in Triple-A All-Star contests . . . The Buzz will get right back into action tonight when they face the Tucson Toros on the road. LaTroy Hawkins is scheduled to start for the Buzz, who are 11-9 in the second half of the season.