National Team Walks Off With Win In Third-Annual AFL Rising Stars Game

The third-annual Arizona Fall League Rising Stars game took place Friday night and it was a game to remember.

Righthanders Tommy Hanson (Braves) and Phil Hughes (Yankees) faced off, with Hanson taking the hill for the American Rising Stars and Hughes getting the ball for the National Rising Stars.

Hughes may have more major league experience, but Hanson had the better game. The Braves’ 22nd-round draft pick in 2005 signed as a draft-and-follow after spending a year at Riverside Community College and has become one of the best pitching prospects in the game.

Last night, he threw three no-hit innings, walking two batters, but also striking out seven.

Things were looking good for the American team when Hanson’s teammates put up four runs in the top of the second inning with home runs from left fielder Chad Huffman (Padres) and center fielder Josh Reddick (Red Sox).

The 4-0 lead held until the bottom of the sixth inning, when the National team got on the board thanks to a solo home run by catcher J.P. Arencibia (Blue Jays). The American team answered with a run of their own in the top of the seventh and had a 5-1 lead when the National team’s bats woke up and they went ahead 6-5 after a five-run eighth inning. The American team tied the game in the top of the ninth on an RBI single by catcher Josh Thole (Mets).

In the bottom of the ninth, righthander Casey Fien (Tigers) entered the game for the American team. Arencibia started off the inning with a single and first baseman Beau Mills followed that with another single. When DH Wes Hodges hit a third-consecutive single, Arencibia tried to score the winning run, but was thrown out at the plate by American left fielder Chris Pettit (Angels). Because Mills advanced to third and Hodges ended up at second, Fien intentionally walked National right fielder Joe Dickerson (Royals) to set up a force at any base. The move backfired, however, when he unintentionally walked the next batter—left fielder Drew Stubbs (Reds) bringing the winning run home.

The National Rising Stars defeated the American Rising Stars, 7-6. Center fielder Julio Borbon (Rangers) went 3-for-3, Arencibia went 2-for-2 and Mills went 2-for-3 for the National team.