07/18/2023 11:03 PM -
Chicago, Ill. – July 18, 2023 – The final score was only a footnote to what transpired on Tuesday night at Oil City Stadium.
Yes, the Northern League West All-Stars slugged a pair of late home runs to pull away from the Northern League East All-Stars 7-3, but more importantly this night was about showcasing the league’s top talent and affording players from various teams the opportunity to compete alongside one another.
“It’s a lot of fun,” East manager Justin Huisman of the Lake County Corn Dogs said. “There’s no pressure; you’re just trying to go out there and showcase yourself, the team and the league. You meet different personalities, people you’ve played against and don’t really know what their personalities are like. It’s a lot of fun to come together for one night and see what you can do out there for the fans.”
Kevin Bushnell of the Indiana Panthers reached base three times including a solo homer in the eighth, earning Northern League All-Star Game Most Valuable Player accolades.
“I was just sitting fastball,” Bushnell said. “He missed with a breaking ball the pitch before. I got my hands up through the zone. It felt good off the bat, and I knew it was gone as soon as I hit it. It was a lot of fun to be here, talk with everyone from other teams and play in front of a big crowd tonight.”
Bushnell’s Panther teammate George Bilecki also drilled a solo shot, his coming to lead off the seventh. The West – comprised of the Panthers, Northwest Indiana Oilmen and Southland Vikings – scored twice in that seventh inning, putting up the game’s only crooked number. All of the other scoring came in the form of single tallies with the West scoring in the first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth and the East – comprised of the Lake County Corn Dogs, Elkhart County Miracle and Griffith Generals – scoring in each of the middle three frames.
“The most enjoyable part is for the guys to chat it up with players that you’ve seen across the field all year,” West manager Adam Enright of the Northwest Indiana Oilmen said. “It’s nice to have some fun and get to know those guys in a less competitive setting. Seeing the Oilmen guys do as well as they did was also nice. All three innings that we pitched were zeros and we had quite a few hits and RBIs today.”
Strong defense was on display throughout the evening, highlighted by Jayden Miller of the Miracle making an incredible catch in center field to end the fourth inning, robbing Bushnell of a bases-clearing double. Another solid play came by East shortstop Randy Seymour of the Oilmen for the game’s penultimate out in the ninth.
The post All-Star Break portion of the Northern League schedule will begin on Thursday, July 20.