Metropolitan League All-Star Game : Hopper Gets Chance, Then Stays Around to Win

Times Staff Writer

For a while it looked as if Brad Hopper's appearance in Sunday's Metropolitan League All-Star game at Anaheim Stadium would be confined to one pitch.

But, thanks to a ninth-inning four-run rally by the all-star team, he pitched 1 innings and earned the victory as the all-stars defeated the league-champion Pomona Colts, 4-2.

Hopper, who played for the Fullerton Truckers, was scheduled to pitch the ninth. But with the all-stars trailing Pomona, 1-0, in the bottom of the eighth, the bottom of the ninth wasn't assured.

So in the eighth, he was given a chance to pitch. He replaced Rudy Taub of the Huntington Beach Suns, who had thrown two pitches for two ground outs in the inning. Hopper got a ground out on his first pitch to end the inning.

The all-stars, who had been retired in order in six of the first eight innings, then scored four runs to take the lead.

Bobby Thome of the Cypress Bulldogs doubled to score Mike Huyler with the tying run. Jeff Walters singled home Thome, who was voted the game's most valuable player, with the go-ahead run. Walters scored on a single by Darrin Tomasick, who later scored on an error.

Hopper, a right-hander who pitched at Fullerton College last spring after moving from Michigan, gave up a run on two doubles in the ninth before getting the final out to earn the victory.

"I was glad we scored those runs," Hopper said. "Not only did it mean we got a chance to win, but it also meant I got to pitch more. In the ninth I was in a position where I had a lead and needed to throw strikes, I didn't want to give anybody a free ride."

Hopper was attending Saginaw Valley State, a Division II school in Michigan, last fall but wanted to come to Southern California to play year-round and get more exposure to major league scouts.

"He called me during Christmas vacation and asked for a tryout," said Nick Fuscardo, Fullerton College coach. "We knew right away he was going to help us."

Hopper was 6-0 for Fullerton in the spring, working mostly in long and short relief. Hopper had been given Fuscardo's name by a scout with the Phillies.

"I didn't plan on staying out here, but the tryout went so I well I decided to stay," said Hopper, 19. "I had confidence in myself and knew what I could do. I just wasn't sure if I would get a fair chance, but I did at Fullerton."

Metro League Notes:

Todd Rolph of Pomona became the sixth player in the 22 all-star games to hit a home run. He homered in the fourth off Rich Lodding of the Cypress Bulldogs. . . . Pomona used 10 pitchers, and the first nine limited the all-stars to three hits in eight innings. David Rice of Pomona, who pitched at Cypress College last spring, gave up four hits and four runs in the ninth to take the loss. . . . Wayne Helm, who was voted the league's outstanding pitcher, worked two innings. He had four strikeouts and didn't allow a hit. . . . Scott Einhorn of the Truckers won the league's sportsmanship award. . . . Dave Hajek of Pomona won the league's top hitter award. He hit .575 (42 for 75) but was 1 for 4 with a bloop double that went off the glove of Steve Gill in the all-star game. The all-stars lead the series, 12-9-1.

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