While Major League Baseball literally rolled out the red carpet for its incoming all-stars Monday evening in San Diego, the Pecos League did its best to roll out the welcome wagon for its chosen few before its annual midsummer classic at Fort Marcy Ballpark.

Try as they might, this is still the Pecos League, and times — well, they move at a different speed at the lowest level of professional ball.

The day’s activities started with the home run derby and ended with the game itself. Bolstered by an 18-hit attack that featured a two-home run night from Topeka catcher Jordan Caillouet, the North made off with a 14-10 win that wasn’t nearly as close as the final tally indicated.

The North turned an early 4-2 deficit into a commanding nine-run lead after plating 11 runs between the third and sixth innings. It all started when Fuego pitcher Eric Gleese, one of just two Santa Fe players chosen to represent the South, was roughed up for five runs in just one-third of an inning.

“Nerves, that’s what I think it was,” said Fuego catcher Eric Maria, who was behind the plate for the first four innings. “It’s an all-star game and we’re all excited. I was excited and Eric was too. It just happens.”

Gleese gave up two walks and three singles to start the top of the third, bringing home one run on a wild pitch and watching the final two runs come home on an infield error with the bases loaded.

Gleese was charged with the loss, giving up three hits and three walks as seven of the eight batters he faced reached base. Maria finished his night 0-for-2, reaching base in the bottom of the first on an error by the shortstop. The play was ruled a hit by the scorekeeper, but the ball was a routine bouncer up the middle that should have ended the inning with a force at second.

The eventual game-winning run came home when Caillouet scored on the aforementioned two-run error in the third inning. He had singled earlier in the frame, a hit that was bookended by two-run homers in the first and fourth innings.

“We just got done playing a series here and for whatever reason I really see the ball well in this place,” Caillouet said. “I knew that coming in so I just wanted to put a good swing on the ball and see what happened.”

His Topeka teammate, Tyler Shannon, added a two-run home run in the sixth inning as the North rolled to a 13-4 lead against a revolving door of South pitchers.

The North had a cosmetic rally in the bottom of the ninth, scoring three times and putting runners at second and third when the final out was recorded.


Generous scorekeeping: Although the official stats might eventually read differently, the scoreboard at Fort Marcy was treating nearly every bouncing ball with kid gloves when it came to hits and errors.

Officially there were five miscues in the game and 34 hits all told. According to the big red board beyond the center field fence, there were zero errors and 39 hits. That included the bouncer hit by Maria that was comically ruled a hit almost before it happened.

Sloppy early: The first two innings saw four runners either caught stealing or picked off at first; two for each team. The North had it happen on consecutive instances in the top of the second inning when singles by Joey Cocere of Garden City and Logan Trowbridge of Great Falls were erased when each was picked off by Roswell pitcher David Johnson.

The South’s Kaohu Gaspar stole a bag in the bottom of the first and later scored on a sacrifice fly, but he was caught trying to steal second in the next inning after singling to center.

Attendance: No official attendance figure was announced but it appeared that no more than 400-500 fans attended the game. It’s a far cry from the initial all-star outing in Santa Fe four years ago, one that drew over 1,000 people to Fort Marcy.

Tough night: If Caillouet was the MVP, the opposite was true of Trinidad’s Erick Magee. A starting outfielder for the North, he batted eighth in the order and … well, he didn’t have a very good night.

He struck out three times and finished 0-for-5, reaching base on an error in the fifth inning before being stranded at second when a double play ended the frame.

Wardrobe malfunction: Officially the Fuego had two players in Monday’s game, the fewest of any team in the league. There was, however, a third player in a Santa Fe uniform as former Fuego Steven Taft was a reserve off the South bench.

Taft started the season with Santa Fe but was shipped to Topeka early on. Chosen to represent the North after a strong first half with the Train Robbers, he was told before the game that he would have to wear a Fuego uniform and play for the South because he’d been in Santa Fe to start the season.

He wore a No. 5 turquoise jersey and came into the game as a pinch hitter in the sixth. He proceeded to ground into an inning-ending double play and finished his night 0-for-3. He grounded out second as the last out in the bottom of the ninth.

Scouting report: Santa Fe interim manager Rodney Tafoya attended Monday’s game with a scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The two sat in the grandstand directly behind home plate as the scout took notes on about a handful of players.

Prison rules: The Fuego continued their tradition of letting kids run the bases with the team’s mascot, Pepper, during a break in the fourth inning. Adorned in his familiar fuzzy red suit, Pepper usually leads the charge as kids circle the bases behind him.

On Monday he was overtaken rounding third by a 10-year-old boy in a Fuego hat. The kid slid into home just before the mascot touched the plate, then proceeded to send the mascot tumbling head over heels when their feet got tangled.

It drew a large round of applause from the fans.

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