Adam Jones had a simple request for the South team of the Brooks Robinson All-Star Game at Camden Yards on Sunday.
A day after his walk-off home run in extra innings against the Philadelphia Phillies, and minutes after he scored the winning run in extra innings Sunday, another walk-off win, Jones had some more walking on his mind. This time, it concerned his dog. And there came the request.
"He just wanted us to score and get ahead so he had a reason to leave and go home to walk his dog," said Cody Acker (Blake), the South's leadoff man.
Acker delivered for the victorious South.
He led off the bottom half of the first inning with a single, then stole second and eventually scored on a passed ball.
"I was almost passing out after I got on first and got the hit and stole second," Acker said. "It was actually pretty overwhelming."
The South would make Jones, who chatted with players on both teams at the beginning of the game, wait a bit longer before sealing the game. They scored the decisive three runs in the fourth inning, breaking a 1-1 tie, en route to a 4-3 victory. Brandon O'Malley (Northeast) earned the win despite picking up two unearned runs in the fifth.
There were plenty of unearned runs to go around, in fact. The contest was an all-star game, but in name only. The South was aided by several errors, and scored runs on passed balls and wild pitches. Not to be outdone, the North scored on passed balls, errors, and singles aided by errors, both throwing and fielding.
In fact, not a single runner crossed home plate without capitalizing on some defensive mishap. Lamonte Wade (St. Paul's), a Maryland signee, attributed the sloppy play in the field to nerves.
"Just jitters," Wade said. "You're playing in Oriole Park; everybody's trying to show it off."
The South's Nick Freeberger (Archbishop Spalding) had a different explanation. With a team full of all-stars, not everyone could play his natural position.
"Everybody in the [South] infield was a shortstop except for me," said Freeberger, the first baseman, with a chuckle.
After Acker's run to open the scoring, and following a sparkling two innings of work by Orioles 19th-round draft pick Josh Hader (Old Mill), Wade tied the game in the third inning on an RBI single.
In another error-aided fourth inning, Eric Ramsey (Georgetown Prep) powered the South's three-run burst with a two-RBI single, and Freeberger scored on another wild pitch. Ramsey picked up the South's offensive MVP honors.
The North mounted a comeback in the fifth inning (on a throwing error and a passed ball), but the South held on, and Jack Wood (North Caroline) tossed a scoreless seventh to collect the save.
For many of the players, like Freeberger, the game was a rare opportunity to play on the same field as their childhood heroes.
"Running through my head I was just thinking of everybody that's been in that right-hand batter's box," Freeberger said. "Adam Jones, a few up at Memorial Stadium, Brooks and Frank Robinson, Cal Ripken.
"It's like nothing I've ever felt before."
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