Dos Palos' Del Rio shines with All-Stars

June 13, 2013 

sjansen@mercedsunstar.com

Efrain Del Rio doesn't look like your typical sophomore. The Dos Palos star towers over just about everyone with his 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame.

Del Rio put on a show on Saturday night as he went 2 for 2 with a home run and three RBI, leading led the South team to a 7-3 win over the North in the fourth annual Merced County All-Star Baseball Game at Merced College.

If his offensive performance wasn't enough, he also pitched an inning and struck out the side.

"That kid is going to do big things," said Merced High pitcher Matt Smith. "It's hard to believe he's only 16 years old."

Del Rio gave his team an early 2-0 lead when he hit a 2-1 pitch from Atwater's Robby Sanchez deep over the left-field fence.

"I was looking fastball," Del Rio said. "I knew it was gone right away."

Del Rio wasn't the only Dos Palos player stealing the spotlight. Teammate Adam Coronado made a diving play in the bottom of the first to rob a hit from Atwater's Vic Tiscareno. Coronado also drove in a run in the fourth inning with a sacrifice fly.

Smith got the start and pitched two scoreless innings for the South to pick up the victory.

After retiring the North in order in the first, he pitched around a double by Los Banos' Christian Garnica and a hit batter in the second.

"I haven't thrown in a game since we played Golden Valley (May 8)," Smith said. "I did throw catch in the bullpen the other day. All my stuff was working tonight. It was kind of cool throwing to a catcher you've never thrown to before."

Le Grand's Carlo Del Real just missed a three-run homer in the top of the third inning as he pulled the ball just outside the left-field foul pole. The Southern League MVP settled for an RBI single off of Garnica to extend the South lead to 3-0.

Buhach Colony's Shane Bell plated the North's first run with a single in the bottom of the third.

However, the South blew the game open with a four-run fourth inning.

Mariposa's Kyle Brocchini and Sam Tucker both singled to start the rally. Sonora's Justin Payne and Del Rio later connected on RBI singles to help give the South a 7-3 lead.

Pacheco right-hander Omar Sierra showed off his arm for the North with two scoreless innings that saw him strike out five hitters.

"What an awesome night," Smith said. "It was a great atmosphere. I wasn't sure how much everybody would be talking to each other, but there was some great high school stories being told in the dugout.

"There's a lot of guys exchanging phone numbers after the game."

A team of Merced County All-Stars will host a Stanislaus County All-Star team on today at Merced College at 7 p.m.

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