Cerda Shines With MVP Performance in NYPL All-Star Game

The New York-Penn League held its annual All-Star Game on Tuesday night. A few early rain drops could only temporarily slow down the festivities from Dutchess Stadium in Wappingers Falls, New York, home of the Hudson Valley Renegades.

Many of the six players from the well-represented Mahoning Valley Scrappers got to partake in their first professional midsummer classic and Erlin Cerda played the hero of the game as his South team defeated the North team, 9-5. Cerda took home MVP honors for his three-run home run in the fourth inning that gave the South All-Stars a 4-3 advantage at the time, a lead that they would never relinquish.

The 22-year-old Cerda was joined by five other Scrappers, including pitchers Juan Hillman and Tanner Tully, and outfielders Andrew Calica, Todd Isaacs, and Gabriel Mejia.

Cerda was in the starting lineup for the visiting South team, playing second base and hitting seventh in the batting order. He was joined in the starting nine by 21-year-old Mejia, who hit leadoff and played center field for the squad on his second mid-season All-Star club after being previously named to the Dominican Summer League team in 2014.

Mejia and Cerda each struck out in their first at bats as the South fell behind after three first inning North runs. Mejia grounded out to end the top of the third, but things turned around for the South squad in the fourth as they loaded the bases with one out. A sacrifice fly drove home a run before Cerda cleared the bases with a three-run shot to left to make it a 4-3 game.

“I told the guys, ‘Oooh, that’s far,’ It was very far,” said a joking Cerda following the game. “I just tried to put the ball in play, and good things happen when you put the ball in play.”

Cerda had not hit a homer professionally until this season. He had four prior to the All-Star Game after none in his first three years in the Indians organization, two of which came in the Dominican Summer League in 2013 and 2014 and last season which was spent in the Arizona League.

Scrappers’ 21-year-old lefty Tully took the mound in the bottom of the fourth with the first South lead of the night. After two quick outs, the 26th round pick out of The Ohio State University in June allowed a single and another runner reached on an error before he got a grounder back to himself to end the inning.

In his final at bat in the top half of the fifth, Mejia popped out on a bunt attempt and was replaced defensively in the bottom half. Tully was replaced on the mound and Calica entered the game in left field.

Isaacs pinch-hit in the sixth and took over as the designated hitter, reaching on an error in left and advancing to second. He moved to third on a single and scored on a liner to right from his teammate Calica to make it 7-3. The first year pro and eleventh round selection by the Indians in June would steal second but would later be picked off.

Isaacs, 20, struck out in the seventh and popped to short in his final at bat to end the top half of the ninth, while Calica was hit by a pitch in his final plate appearance leading off the top of the eighth.

Cerda was 1-for-2 with a game-high three RBI and his key home run. Mejia was 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Isaacs was 0-for-3 but did score a run. Calica reached safely both times with a single and a hit by pitch while driving in a run and stealing a base. Tully pitched a scoreless frame, while Hillman did not pitch in the exhibition.

Play was back underway in the New York-Penn League on Wednesday night as the Scrappers faced the Muckdogs in Batavia for a doubleheader. Mahoning Valley will look to close out the rest of the short-season schedule with no rest, playing every day until the season finale on September 5th in West Virginia. The poor start to the season will likely keep them out of any postseason play, but after being buried in the cellar of the Pinckney Division early in the schedule, the third place club has bounced back to the .500 mark at the break with a 27-27 record and had pulled within nine games of first place State College.

“We got a really good team now,” said Cerda after the All-Star Game. “The start of the season was not too good of a team, but now we got a great team.”

Photo: Danny Wild/MiLB.com

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