Dragons' Bruce named MVP of All-Star Game
By Steve Batterson
Quad City Times
DAVENPORT, Iowa | The youngest player in the 42nd Midwest League baseball All-Star Game walked away with the biggest prize.
Dayton outfielder Jay Bruce, just 19 years old, finished off the Eastern Division's 7-1 win with a two-run homer in the ninth inning Tuesday night, punctuating his three-hit performance.
"I didn't come here looking to win anything. All I wanted to do was play well and help my team win," said Bruce, the Reds' first-round choice in the 2005 draft. Bruce is the first Dragons' player to win the annual Star of Stars Award presented to the game's most valuable player.
Bruce also singled, doubled and stole a pair of bases to complement the East team's dominant pitching performance in front of a crowd of 4,638 at John O'Donnell Stadium.
"This was definitely the type of game that meant a lot. Whenever you come out and play beside and against the best of the best in the league, you want to put your best game out there, too," Bruce said. "This is the type of game that can give me a lot of confidence heading into the second half."
Quad-Cities outfielder Colby Rasmus was the only West player to manage two hits, and his two-out single in the third inning was the last of the five hits the West managed against a group of 11 East pitchers.
"They had some good arms, and we knew that coming in," Rasmus said. "Their pitchers kept us off balance."
The East took a 1-0 lead in the top of first on a sacrifice fly by Jeff Baisley of Kane County.
Back-to-back doubles by Rasmus and Quad-Cities teammate Randy Roth made it 1-1 in the bottom of the first.
"That was pretty cool. It was just like playing any other game with Randy knocking me in,'' Rasmus said.
Bruce went to work in the third, collecting the first of his two hits with a one-out single.
He stole second, then scored what proved to be the game-winning run when Cory Patton of Lansing stroked a two-out single to right off the Swing's Jaime Garcia.
A pair of Fort Wayne batters, Kyle Blanks and Daryl Jones, followed with RBI singles to give the East a 4-1 lead that went unchallenged.
Garcia was tagged with the loss, giving up five hits and three runs in one inning, although he did record three of the 14 strikeouts recorded by the 16 pitchers Peoria manager Jody Davis managed to squeeze into the game.
Bruce opened the seventh with a double, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Dayton's Craig Tatum.
Two innings later, he left no doubt, taking a pitch from the Swing's Danny Borne over the fence in left.
"At the beginning of the year, I was struggling a bit against lefties, but tonight I showed what I could do,'' Bruce said.