It was one of the most unusual All-Star games professional baseball has ever seen.
And Kody Kerski played his part in making it unusual.
The Everett AquaSox hurler had a hand in a pitching-dominating night, as last Tuesday’s Northwest League All-Star Game in Eugene, Ore, finished in a 0-0 tie after 10 innings.
“It was exciting,” said Kerski, one of 17 pitchers who combined on the double bagel. “Obviously when it’s 0-0 nobody wants to give up the first run in an All-Star game. It was a good thing for the pitchers at least.”
Kerski and Everett teammate Cruz Pereira each pitched one scoreless inning for the North Division All-Stars, who had nine pitchers combine on a four-hitter. The South Division saw eight pitchers combine on a five-hitter.
“The score indicated it was quite the pitching duel, finishing in a 0-0 tie,” said Sox first baseman Kyle Petty, who was a rarity as he managed to get a hit. “I thought it was a pretty good game, it was a clean game all around. The pitchers were throwing well. It’s tough when every inning it’s a new pitcher because you can’t get a read on any one pitcher. That makes it a little more difficult.”
So why was the pitching so dominant?
“I don’t know,” Kerski answered. “Maybe the league has a lot of good pitchers from this year’s draft. There were a lot of different arms, and that probably throws off the batters a bit because they’re facing a new pitcher every at-bat. And then it’s the best pitchers from every team.”
The game was reminiscent of the 2002 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which was declared over after 11 innings because the teams ran out of pitchers, the teams having to settle for a 7-7 tie. But while that game had to be declared over by commissioner Bud Selig on the fly, the Northwest League game was always scheduled for a maximum of 10 innings, so the players knew all along that the 10th would be the last chance to score.
“I kind of wish one of the teams would have won,” Kerski said. “But I can’t be too disappointed as a pitcher. We all did our job, keeping it 0-0, and there’s nothing else you can do about it.”
Said Petty: “Obviously you don’t want to see it end in a tie, but you have to be careful with the guys. You can’t run the pitchers out there and have them throw more than one or two innings because we have to come back the next day and compete. It’s unfortunate that it finished 0-0, but you do what you have to do.”
At least Tuesday’s game, because it had an innings limit from the beginning, managed to avoid the boos from the fans that accompanied the 2002 Major League Baseball All-Star Game fiasco.
“I think at first (the fans) were confused about why we were walking off the field,” Petty said. “But they eventually cheered and I think they understood.”
And Tuesday’s game provided those fans in attendance the added spectacle of the rare double shutout.
Pereira was the first Everett pitcher called upon in the game. The left-hander came on to pitch the bottom of the fourth inning. He allowed a one-out double to Boise’s Mark Zagunis, but he retired the other three batters he faced on a flyout, groundout and pop-up.
Then Kerski relieved Pereira in the bottom of the fifth. The righty began the inning by walking Hillsboro’s Grant Heyman. However, he followed with back-to-back strikeouts, then ended his appearance by getting a groundout.
“I thought I did all right,” Kerski said. “I walked the first batter I faced, so I was disappointed with that. But after that it went well.”
Later in the game Petty did something that just two other players accomplished all game long: reach third base. With two out in the top of the seventh Petty beat out an infield single to third. He advanced to third when Spokane’s Jose Trevino followed by doubling to center. But Petty was stranded at third when Sox teammate Adam Martin flew out to right to end the inning.
“It wasn’t a pretty one, it was more of a swinging bunt,” Petty said of his hit. “But it’s a hit, it goes in the book as one.”
Could Petty, who has decent speed, have scored on Trevino’s double and ended the double shutout?
“It was the manager’s decision to hold me at third,” Petty said. “It would have been a bang-bang play at the plate.
“Obviously I wanted to score, but the manager didn’t want anyone to get hurt,” Petty added. “There was no reason to risk injury.”
Petty was held, the shutouts remained intact, and the Northwest League’s 2014 All-Star Game will always be remembered for being unique.