Huntsville's All-Stars Play Large Role in 6-1 North Win

(ZEBULON, N.C.) -- Huntsville's Michael Brantley, Alcides Escobar, and Cole Gillespie made a significant impact for the Northern All-Stars in their 6-1 victory in the Southern League All-Star Game at Five County Stadium, Monday night, but it was a local hero, Carolina 2nd baseman Chris Coghlan, who emerged the All-Star of this show.

Brantley, Escobar, and Gillespie combined for 6 of the North's 9 hits, and scored half of their runs, but it was Coghlan's 3-run homer in the 5th off Jacksonville right-hander Jesus Castillo that broke the game open, giving his squad a decisive 5-1 lead.

Brantley started the decisive 5th with a single. Escobar followed with a line drive single to left. Coghlan then turned on Castillo's next pitch, a fastball right down the middle, and launched it over the right-field fence to push the North to a 5-1 advantage to 5-1.

Tennessee Smokies outfielder Doug Deeds added one more in the 6th with a long bomb on a 3-2 pitch off Mobile right-hander Brooks Brown that nearly cleared the scoreboard in right field.

North starter Ben Jukich of the Chattanooga Lookouts took home the Pitcher of the Game award after retiring the side in order on just six pitches in the 1st inning.

The North took a 2-0 lead on Montgomery's Wade Davis in the bottom half of the inning after leadoff hitter and Mudcat centerfielder John Raynor hit a ground-rule double down the right field line. Escobar, 3rd in batting in the league, singled to center to drive him in for the first run. Escobar went to 2nd on the throw home, went to 3rd on a ground ball by Coghlan, and scored on a passed ball by John Jaso, who also was charged with a passed ball in last year's All-Star Game.

The South made it a one-run game after Stars left-hander David Welch retired the South on six pitches in the 3rd. Mobile shortstop Yunesky Sanchez hit a leadoff double off Carolina pitcher Jeff Gogal in the 4th. Sanchez went to third on a grounder by Jaso, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Mobile's 2nd baseman Rusty Ryal.

Afterwards, no South player was able to reach second base until they loaded the bases with two out in the 9th. Then Carolina's closer, Chris Mobley got Birmingham's Miguel Negron to ground out to end the game.

The North's defense was a big help, turning three double plays. Chattanooga 3rd baseman Eric Eymann started a pair, while Stars right-hander Patrick Ryan snatched a hard-hit comebacker and turned it into a 1-6-3 double play in the 7th.

Ryan pitched a scoreless 7th, retiring the South on 12 pitches, striking out leadoff man Ryal before giving up a ground ball single to Mobile 1st baseman Bryan Byrne, who led their squad with two hits.

Over 5,600 attended the game which played out in a swift 2:19.