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Flashback: 2002 Carolina / California All-Star Game

June 18, 2020 - Carolina League (CarL) - Wilmington Blue Rocks News Release

Wilmington, DE - On the much-anticipated night of June 18, 2002, the City of Wilmington, the Wilmington Blue Rocks and Frawley Stadium had the Advanced-A spotlight shining down on them as they proudly hosted the 2002 California-Carolina League All-Star Game.

The gates to Frawley Stadium opened and the air was full with a thick humidity. As the game neared, both leagues held friendly pre-game events such as a four-man fielding relay, pitching accuracy contest and a home run derby competition on the field.

To open the competition, six four-man relay teams took part in a fielding relay from catcher, infield, short outfield and deep outfield. The winning team was comprised of Ronny Paulino (Lynchburg - Pittsburgh), Thomas Lora (Blue Rocks), Josh Bonifay (Lynchburg - Pittsburgh) and Byron Gettis (Blue Rocks). The California and Carolina Leagues went head-to-head in the pitching accuracy contest with Ryan Cullen (Visalia - Oakland) taking the honors as Rhett Parrott (Potomac - St. Louis) finished second.

The third contest was the always-popular home run hitting contest. Mother Nature had something to say about this interleague showdown, as the humidity turned to heavy rain mid-contest and forced a delay. In the end, four batters from each league would take one round each with Tagg Bozied (Lake Elsinore - San Diego) winning with three dingers.

Although the rain dampened the parade of events, it would ultimately yield for the game to be played. Following a 41-minute delay, the game would begin as the Carolina League team featured six Blue Rocks players, including Carolina League starting pitcher Ian Ferguson. Other Blue Rocks who got the start were outfielders David DeJesus and Gettis. The team was managed by fourth-year Blue Rocks skipper Jeff Garber, while Bill Slack served as the pitching coach.

It did not take long for the California League to get on the board as Carlos Duncan (Rancho Cucamonga - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) smacked a first-inning sacrifice fly to score Rocco Baldelli (Bakersfield - Tampa Bay) for the early 1-0 lead.

The game was frozen at 1-0 until the bottom of the fourth when the Carolina League knotted the score at 1-1 as a pair of Kinston Indians (Cleveland) combined for a run, when Eric Crozier smacked an RBI single to plate Corey Smith.

The very next inning, the Carolina League took the lead as David DeJesus scored on a Ronny Paulino fielder's choice. Crozier also came through with an RBI, scoring Jose Castillo (Lynchburg - Pittsburgh).

Trailing 3-1 in the seventh, the California League plated the equalizing runs behind an RBI double from Craig Ansman (Lancaster - Arizona) and a second run when Bozied reached on an error, scoring Ansman.

The game would remain scoreless after nine innings, and the two league managers agreed to play one extra inning to attempt to garner a winner. But to no avail, as the game would ultimately end in a 3-3 tie after 10 innings. The result would be the second tie in six overall meetings between the two leagues. The game featured 25 combined strikeouts as the Carolina pitchers fanned 14, while California countered with 11 of its own.

The performances of Baldelli and Crozier would result in them both earning "Star of Stars" MVP awards for their respective leagues. The game also featured injured Blue Rocks infielder and All-Star Darren Fenster, who coached first base for the Carolina League.

The legendary coaches from the University of Delaware served the evening as the honorary captains. Former head football coach Harold R. "Tubby" Raymond and former head baseball coach Bob Hannah were recognized in this role for the evening. In the end, the event drew 5,545 fans to see the Major League Stars of tomorrow on Wilmington's Field of Dreams for the mid-summer classic.

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