VBL’s Division II All-Stars Provide Offensive Punch in South’s 5-0 Wn

By Shane Mettlen
Special Correspondent

HARRISONBURG – For a while, it looked like the offensive firepower at Sunday’s Valley Baseball League All-Star festivities was reserved for the pre-game home run derby. But the South All-Stars manufactured runs over the final few innings to secure a 5-0 victory over the North at Veterans Memorial Park.

The roster for both teams were filled with Division I players, including several from ACC and SEC powerhouses, but early on it was Division II talent showing it belonged as the lower-level players were the only ones to do anything with their bats as the teams allowed each pitcher on the roster to throw one inning.

Harrisonburg outfielder Ty Andrus from Wingate College took home the MVP honors for the South, going 4-for-5 at the plate.

“The guys in the dugout were joking that I was showing what the D-II guys can do,” Andrus said. “It’s cool to be able to come in and play such high-level baseball and be able to show out. It’s fund to be a part of it.”

Danton Hyman, a Woodstock outfielder from Newberry College, was named the MVP of the North after collecting a pair of hits.

“Good pitching always beats good hitting,” North manager Brett Fuller from Purcellville said, “We had some errors in the last couple innings to let them get some runs, but most of our guys pitched really well. And Danton Hyman, he’s just a guy who always plays hard and plays the game the right way.”

Andrus certainly represented the Turks well, colleting hits each of his first three times up and Bruce Strickland, the Covington Lumberjacks third baseman from Felician College in New Jersey, added a single in the bottom of the fourth, but their teammates from the South failed to do anything to drive them in.

Runs didn’t come any easier for North’s All-Stars, either. Even a line-drive triple off the wall in left field from the University of North Georgia’s Chase Sudduth proved fruitless with the New Market infielder still standing on third when the top half of the fourth ended.

It wasn’t until the bottom of the sixth that the South finally got on the scoreboard. Staunton second baseman Payton Robertson, from Lamar University, led off with a single and eventually scored on a grounder up the middle from Charlottesville Tom Sox catcher Eric Jones.

Robertson came up big a half inning later keeping the North off the board when a diving stop behind the bag at second and flip to the base helped quell any threat of the North tying the game.

“You’ve got the best of the league here represented,” South manager Corey Hung of Charlottesville said. “The depth of the league showed because for the most part each pitcher came in and threw strikes and did a good job. Runs were hard to come by, but that shows you the depth of the league.”

The South tacked on insurance runs in the eighth with Covington’s Caleb Walls (George Mason) and Charlottesville’s Kyle Battle (Old Dominion) each delivering RBI singles. It then added two more runs with the game decided in the bottom of the ninth.

The VBL regular season resumes today. The Turks return to the field Tuesday at home against New Market at 7:30 p.m.