World All-Stars celebrate their victory. (SMP Images/ Theron Kirkman)
SYDNEY, 21 December - The ConocoPhillips 2011 ABL All-Star Game, held at Perth's Barbagallo Ballpark, was a thrilling affair in which the World All-Stars, led by game MVP Tyler Collins, prevailed over the home-standing Australian National Team by an 8-5 score. Collins drove in three on an opposite field home run, scored two, and added another hit in the game. Mike McGuire started on the mound for the World team and was credited with the win and veteran reliever Dae Sung Koo picked up the save.
Early on, this game was completely in favor of the World All-Stars. They jumped out to a 4-0 lead by scoring in each of the first three innings.
In the first, Heat outfielder James McOwen came home on a double play groundout by Denny Almonte. Then, in the second, they added two more. Alex Burg led off with a double and moved to third when Collins singled to right. Both would end up scoring on groundouts by Ty Morrison and Chin-lung Hu, respectively. They pushed the lead to four in the third when Team Australia left fielder Tom Brice lost a fly ball in the sun, allowing Collins to cross the plate.
Meanwhile, the pitching trio of McGuire, Yusei Kikuchi, and Alex Maestri cruised on the mound. Through the first three frames, they allowed four hits and struck out three, keeping Team Australia from cutting into the lead.
The next stage of the game saw the home team mount a comeback, scoring three in the sixth to cut the deficit to one. Beginning the inning against Adelaide southpaw Rinku Singh, Team Australia had their first offensive success of the evening. Matt Kennelly entered the game as a pinch hitter and knocked home Justin Huber and Stefan Welch on a single to centre. He reached third on a throw to the plate and scored when an ensuing pitch made it past catcher Ayatsugu Yamashita, squirting to the backstop.
Then, Collins would take over. After Brian Burgamy and Yamashita led off the seventh with back-to-back singles, he stepped to the plate against Perth's Cameron Lamb. He then drove a 1-0 pitch deep to left centre field, clearing the wall for a game-changing three-run homer. The shot extended the World team's lead to 7-4 and they wouldn't allow the Australians to get any closer again.
Adelaide's slugger Almonte added a solo home run in the eighth and Josh Roberts responded with one of his own for Team Australia, sending the contest into the ninth with an 8-5 score. Sydney's Koo then entered the game to close it out, facing four batters in the bottom of the ninth to earn the save.
The World All-Stars finished the game with 15 hits, with 10 of the 12 position players to get an at-bat connecting for a base knock. Team Australia totalled nine hits and had two costly errors, which led to important runs for their opponent. Mike McGuire picked up the win, while Shane Lindsay was saddled with the loss.
After learning of his MVP honours, Collins praised the Perth fans, "It's just an incredible honour. I just want to thank the Blue Sox for bringing me out, and giving me a chance to play in this game. They're great fans in Perth, and this was a fun game and I'm honoured."
The winning manager, Brooke Knight of the World All-Stars and Perth Heat, also showed his appreciation for the Perth fans, as well as his team's effort, saying "It's just a great experience all together, I mean, the crowd was outstanding today, we appreciate all the support. It's nice to see all those guys get out there and compete."
Even in defeat, Team Australia star Justin Huber was gracious and proud of the event his nation had staged: "Overall it was really fun for everybody. Obviously you're
never happy when you lose, but it wasn't about that, it was about showcasing what there is out there in Australian baseball and I think we accomplished that today."
This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.