HARWICH – It was the All-Star Game that almost wasn't, but after a rain-dampened afternoon at Whitehouse Field, the first pitch was finally thrown just after 7:30 p.m. on Sunday night in the annual battle between East and West, this year won by the West with a final score of 4-3.
Umbrellas dotted the stands for the majority of the event thanks to intermittent but at times heavy showers passing over the Lower Cape, but devoted fans stood their ground no matter how muddy it got, waiting in line for autographs and the opportunity to shake hands with their favorite Cape League players from Orleans to Wareham during the afternoon before settling into wet seats to cheer on competitors in the Cumberland Farms Home Run Hitting Contest.
Carter Aldrete of the Orleans Firebirds was the big winner, smashing an impressive 11 home runs in the final round to claim victory over Arizona State teammate and Chatham Angler Spencer Torkelson, who hit 10. When the final ball soared over the fence Torkelson and fellow East Division All-Stars erupted in raucous cheering for Aldrete.
Unfortunately for fans, that's when the rain began to fall in earnest, delaying the start of the game for more than an hour, with players in the East dugout making the most of the time by grooving to apropos tunes such as “Blame it On The Rain.” Finally, the waterworks came to a halt and starting lineups were announced, drawing cheers from those ready for action in the stands.
The West made its intentions for victory clear in the opening inning when they pushed across two runs, the first on a double when Spencer Brickhouse of the Bourne Braves brought in Matthew Barefoot of the Hyannis Harbor Hawks, with Brickhouse scoring on a single from Kyle Stowers.
The next two innings went scoreless as pitchers from both divisions, including Harwich's Andrew Misiaszek, easily retired their sides, but the West struck again in the fourth with back-to-back home runs from Brickhouse and Stowers to boost their lead to 4-0 as the East's Cam Eden, Tanner Morris, and Andrew Daschbach were stymied by West pitcher TJ Sikkema (Falmouth).
The sixth inning saw position changes from both sides, with the East finally finding its way to the scoreboard. Tristin English of the Anglers was the first to reach base with a single to third, racing to second on an error. After the Mariners' Andre Lipcius drew the first out, Chatham's John Rave swung into a single to first, with English capitalizing on another error and racing home for the East's first run.
Next up was Cameron Eden (Brewster) with a single to second, with yet another error from Falmouth's Cameron Cannon moving Rave along to third. During Christian Koss's (Y-D) at-bat, Eden snagged second with a savvy steal, with an error from shortstop Sahid Valenzuela (Wareham) allowing Koss to reach first, Eden to hop on third, and Rave to make it home for East run No. 2 before the inning ended with a fly ball from Daschbach and a strikeout from Brewster's Joe Donovan.
The East would score once more in the outing in the seventh when Quin Cotton (Y-D) made it home on an error during English's at-bat, but solid pitching from West closers Stephen Schoch (Cotuit) and Jacob Wallace (Bourne) prevented an East comeback.
Spencer Brickhouse earned the West MVP award, while the West's Reid Detmers (Brewster) was dubbed their MVP of the game.
Prior to the game longtime Cape Cod Baseball League Commissioner Paul Galop was honored for his tireless work with the league spanning more than 35 years, 15 of those as commissioner. Galop is planning to retire at the end of the 2018 season and was joined by grandchildren Tessa and James as he was presented with a commemorative bat. Galop later threw out the first pitch prior to the start of the game, with Harwich Mariners head coach Steve Englert serving as his catcher.
Other highlights of the day included a visit from Wally the Green Monster of the Boston Red Sox, free snacks from the folks of Cumberland Farms, a chance to spin the wheel and win a Barnstable Bat T-shirt, and more than a few opportunities for puddle jumping. Nods were given to the scores of volunteers from the Harwich Mariners organization, which hosted the game at Whitehouse Field, and others from the Cape League for what was ultimately a fun and festive All-Star Game.