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Anglers Shine as All-Star Game Ends in 1-1 Draw

by George Barclay
Saturday, July 28, 2012

Anglers Shine as All-Star Game Ends in 1-1 Draw
HARWICH- For the second straight night, manager John Schiffner and members of the Chatham Anglers ran into a tie as the 2012 Cape League All-Star Game ended in a 1-1 draw. A game with minimal offense, pitchers from both the Eastern and Western divisions plowed through the opposing lineups in just two hours and thirty-two minutes. Experiencing his twentieth All-Star game as manger of the Anglers (17-17-1), Schiffner was all-smiles, encouraging his players from the dugout, coaching first and third base and taking the time to talk to former players and friends following the game.

"It's as much fun as it always is," he said. "It was a great night. I'm glad the East was able to tie it up. Everybody goes home with a smile on their face. Fun game tonight. It was great."

Box Score

2012 All-Star Game: East 1, West 1

With stellar defense and pitching on display for most of the night, both runs on Saturday were scored in the final two innings. The West struck first in the top of the eighth when Cotuit's Jacob May (Coastal Carolina) came around to score on a dropped third strike with two outs. May singled, stole second base and advanced to third on a groundout. Just when the West appeared to have completely taken the momentum, the East countered in the bottom of the ninth. Y-D's Alex Blandino (Stanford) singled to start the inning and advanced to second base on a groundout. After Harwich's Eric Jagielo (Notre Dame) struck out, Y-D's Robert Pehl (Washington) knocked a clutch RBI single into left field, scoring Blandino and knotting the game at one. Despite the blown save, Cotuit's Dan Slania (Notre Dame) struck out Brester's Ryon Healy (Oregon) to end the frame. Following the strikeout, the umpires called the game to avoid any injuries. In the postgame festivities, Wareham's Daniel Palka (Georgia Tech) and Y-D's Alex Blandino (Stanford) were named the MVPs for the Western and Eastern teams. Palka went 3 for 4 with a double and Blandino went 2 for 3, playing picture perfect defense at shortstop.

Although Saturday's game was not the offensive exhibition that many in attendance anticipated, Chatham's three representatives were highly involved in the action that unfolded. California's Andrew Knapp was the first Angler to appear, entering the game to replace Orleans' Jake Hernandez (Southern California) behind the plate. In two at-bats, Knapp went 0-1, getting hit by a pitch in the first and striking out in the second. Yet, it was Knapp's defensive effort that caught the eye of the crowd on Saturday as the Granite Bay, CA native caught four innings and made a tremendous tag on Wareham's Palka on a throw to the plate to prevent a run from scoring in the top of the eighth.

"I was glad he (Knapp) was back there getting himself acclimated," said Schiffner. "If we can get him back behind the dish as well, that'll be a big help to us."

For Chatham's remaining players, right-hander Ryan Thompson (Franklin Pierce) and right-hander Michael Wagner (San Diego) came into the game as relievers, combining for two hitless innings. Thompson took the mound in the seventh inning while Wagner pitched the top of the ninth. Benefitting from a familiar face behind the plate, Thompson and Wagner comprised all-Angler batteries as they were caught by Knapp.

"It was really comforting seeing him out there," said Thompson. "He knows what I'm gonna throw and we're on the same page. It put me in a big comfort zone even though I'm not used to coming in in relief."

Another person who was quite comfortable with the all-Angler batteries was John Schiffner himself.

"That was cool," he said. "That was a lot of fun. It was great to see them together out there. Good for the Anglers."

With a busy day that began in the late morning, Chatham's players could not help but notice how quickly the time went.

"They told us that we had to be here at 11 o'clock and I thought it was going to be a long day," said Thompson. "It's flown by and it's over now. It felt like it lasted for a half hour. We had a brunch, we came to the field and warmed up a little bit, the guys took batting practice and the pitchers shagged balls, then the home run derby happened, then there were some autographs and then the game started. It was a blur."

In addition to handling the fanfare and tight schedule, Saturday provided an opportunity for players on opposing teams to get to know one another.

"It was pretty cool," said Thompson. "They answer those questions that you have about the other teams and the matchups that you face. You get to share your opinions about different hitters and your knowledge of the game."

The Anglers will get a taste of this new knowledge on Sunday when they return to Veterans Field to take on the Wareham Gatemen (15-19). Tune into the Anglers Extra Pregame Show at 6:40 p.m. for live coverage with broadcasters Chris Fitzgerald and Brandon Liebhaber at TRZ Teamline or call 1-800-846-4700, code 3841.