GARRET MEADE PHOTO
Whether playing for Connecticut, North Fork or the East All Stars, Billy Ferriter racks up hits and stolen bases.
JAMAICA — Before the public address announcer at St. John’s University’s Jack Kaiser Stadium disclosed the most valuable player for the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game on Monday night, he recited the player’s statistics for the game. When the words “4 for 4″ were announced, the East All Stars dugout erupted in cheers for their star of the night, Billy Ferriter of the North Fork Ospreys.
But, wait a minute. Don’t MVP awards usually go to a player on the winning team?
In most cases, perhaps, but not this one. Ferriter’s numbers were impossible to overlook: 4 for 4, four stolen bases and one run scored. As it turned out, it was the only run the East managed in its 4-1 loss to the West All Stars.
“You go 4 for 4 with four stolen bags, you get the MVP,” said Riverhead Tomcats pitcher Mike Zaccardo, Ferriter’s teammate at Connecticut as well as on the East team.
Ferriter, who had never gone 4 for 4 with four stolen bases in a game before, had a simple, yet effective approach at the plate.
In “all-star games it’s hard to get into a groove because they throw so many different pitchers at you,” he said. “I found the right place, and I got on base. I was just looking for fastballs and not swinging at the off-speed stuff.”
That is how Ferriter managed four singles off of four pitchers. All of them came off fastballs. Two singles to right field and two infield singles. On the basepaths he stole second base three times and third once.
“He did what Billy Ferriter does, play hard and make stuff happen,” said North Fork Manager Shawn Epidendio, who managed the East team.
The West broke open a scoreless game with a six-hit barrage that produced three runs in the fourth inning. Four straight hits, including a run-scoring double by Tyler Jones and a run-scoring single by Zack Graczyk, ignited the rally. Rob Zinsmeister later shot a single to center field, plating the third run before the East got out of the inning, avoiding further damage with the bases loaded. “It’s kind of what it takes to win games,” said West Manager Evan Davis of the Jersey Pilots. “Big innings get it done most of the time.”
The score was extended to 4-0 in the seventh, which started with Matt Grosso jumping on a pitch for a double along the right-field line, and Matt Will singling. Grosso later scored on a groundout.
Ferriter, who batted in the leadoff spot and played left field, undoubtedly made an impression, playing in front of major league scouts who sat behind home plate with radar guns in hand. He made good use of his bat and legs, using both to put the East on the scoreboard in the eighth. He led off with his fourth hit of the game, chopping a high, one-bounce single to the second baseman. Then he stole second base — his fourth steal of the game — before advancing to third base on an errant throw by the catcher. One batter later, Ferriter came home on a groundout.
Perhaps Ferriter’s nearest challenger for the MVP honor was Jones, who doubled twice. Another West player, Nick Nolan, had two singles.
Aside from Ferriter, though, the East had only two other hits, singles by Kevin Grove and Mike Mandarino. Grove was playing on the same field he calls home as a member of the Red Storm.
The pitching wasn’t too shabby, either, particularly for the West.
“The pitching staff that was selected for the all-star team was probably one of the better staffs of a team that I’ve ever seen together,” Davis said. “A lot of those guys are [throwing] 86, 87 [miles per hour] and plus, and have great off-speed pitches to keep the hitters off-balance.”
Both teams had nine pitchers throw one inning each. Brandon Smith got the win, giving up one hit, one walk and striking out one. One of the West pitchers, Chris Reed, struck out all three batters he faced in the sixth.
“It was a hell of a game, I thought,” West shortstop Jon Wilson said afterward, watching from the dugout steps while youngsters ran the bases. “It was fun to be a part of. I kind of want to play another one right now.”