Summer Collegiate : : Story
Tuesday, July 15, 2014

PGCBL's best head to Elmira

Chris Real        
Photo: Perfect Game

2014 PGCBL All-Star Game Rosters

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – On Tuesday, July 15 the fourth annual PGCBL All-Star Game will take place at Elmira’s Dunn Field, home of the Pioneers. The game will feature 50 of the PGCBL’s top players, including 26 from the five team West Division and 24 from the four team East Division, PGCBL President Jeff Kunion said.

Kunion added this will be the second time Elmira will play host to the All-Star Game since hosting the very first one in 2011. And between each of the stadiums, a competition brews about who can add to the fireworks.

Each team seems to be outdoing and wanting to do a better job than the guys before them, it’s a real competition,” he said.

Kunion expects a large crowd to be present at the All-Star game, as Dunn Field holds 4,000 spectators and this is the PGCBL’s feature game during the regular season.

Aside from the actual game itself, a home run derby competition will take place at 5:00 p.m. Each team will be represented by one slugger, and going by the stats provided by the PGCBL website, Mohawk Valley’s Zach Collett is the leader in home runs thus far in the season with six.

But this game carries much more impact than just signifying the halfway point of the PGCBL season; after all, these are college players looking to develop their game to continue their careers professionally.

I think it gives the league an opportunity to showcase its best players for major league scouts, part of the reasons that so many of our former players have been drafted,” Kunion said. “We get fans from all over the geographic footprint of the league who come to watch the game because they know it’s a fantastic time for the fans.

You’re talking about getting to watch the kids go through their scout day activities, you get to watch the home run derby and you get to watch the best players in the league play ball.”

The scout day activities start at 4 p.m. that will feature the players doing various drills in front of MLB scouts and fans. Some of the notable alumni who have played in the PGCBL are Hunter Pence of the San Francisco Giants, Caleb Thielbar of the Minnesota Twins and Shae Simmons of the Atlanta Braves.

The two coaches for the East and West teams are Keith Griffin, the East coach of the Amsterdam Mohawks, and Matt Burch of Elmira, the West coach. Kunion said that the coaches were picked because the PGCBL chooses the coach of the team who won the PGCBL championship the year before and the coach of the team who is hosting the event.

For Coach Griffin, he enjoys the opportunity to coach these players and watch what they can do. This is also his second year coaching in the All-Star game as his Amsterdam Mohawks have won the past two PGCBL championships.

We let them showcase their talents and abilities,” Griffin said. “We just try to have fun. For this one day, everybody is on the same team. We’re all trying to beat each other and be competitive, but on this particular day our side plays the other side and that’s what we try to do.”

And because this an event where it’s meant to be fun for everyone and showcasing the talents of the players, Griffin said there is no strategy involved besides making sure every player gets an opportunity to pitch and get an at-bat.

For Griffin, he gets the opportunity to coach 10 of his Amsterdam players, but looks forward to seeing the abilities of the other players in the league.

Well we have 10 of our players [Amsterdam] that made the team,” Griffin said. “I’m looking forward to going over there and seeing how they play. And then the other three teams put guys on and it’s a chance to watch them a little closer than when you play them.”

Opposite of Griffin, Coach Burch looks forward to being a coach in the mid-season classic and the coach of the host Elmira Pioneers.

Our players are excited to represent the city of Elmira at Dunn Field during the All-Star Game. Having nine Pioneers selected to the game is a credit to their abilities and these skills will be on display July 15th,” Burch said in a press release.

For the younger baseball fans in attendance, bounce houses will be present for entertainment and a firework extravaganza will cap the eventful day.

Fireworks will surely be in abundance as the league’s best will showcase why they were named All-Stars.

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