Devlin Granberg of the Cowlitz Black Bears (Dallas Baptist) made himself comfortable at the plate at Yakima County Stadium when Cowlitz took two of three games from the Yakima Valley Pippins the week prior. He collected a pair of multiple-hit nights, and even hit a solo home run over the right field wall in the rubber game of the series on June 10. On Tuesday night, in front of a crowd of 2,010 at The Orchard for the West Coast League All-Star Game powered by Target Zero, Granberg stole the show, hitting two home runs en route to taking home MVP honors and leading the South to a 5-2 victory over the North Division All-Stars.
Granberg, who was the Black Bears participant in Monday’s home run derby and fell just short of making the second round, made it clear early on that he wanted a little revenge. After Bend’s Derek Chapman (Washington State) singled in the bottom of the first, Granberg unloaded a monstrous two-run home run to straight-away center field past the 406-foot mark off of the North Division’s starter, Nick Bonniksen of Port Angeles (Dixie State), to give the South a 2-0 lead.
In the third, the North chopped the deficit in half, as Wenatchee’s Evan Johnson (Northern Colorado) singled in Kelowna’s Matt Bottcher (Illinois-Chicago), who had drawn a leadoff walk.
With the South on top 2-1 in the fourth inning, Granberg was at it again, this time leading off the bottom of the frame with a solo shot over the left field wall off of Wenatchee’s Collin Maier (Washington State) for his second home run of the night to give the South a 4-1 lead. The South All-Stars were not finished in the frame, however, as Steve Sordahl (St.Martin’s), playing in front of his home crowd in Yakima, delivered an RBI single to plate his Pippins’ teammate, Lucas Denney (Seattle), who had drawn a one out walk to give the South a 5-1 edge.
The North tried to come to life in the top of the seventh, when Nyquist singled in Bellingham’s Ernie Yake (Gonzaga) to cut the deficit to three at 5-2, but ultimately it was not enough, as the South pitching staff, led by six Corvallis Knights, limited them to five hits over nine innings, and retired six of the final seven batters faced, to secure the 5-2 victory.
Game Notes: Yakima Valley’s Connor White (Portland) started the game and allowed a double by Johnson in the top of the first but stranded a pair on the bases and struck out two. Bonniksen, who allowed the two-run home run in the bottom of the first to Granberg, took the loss. Corvallis’ Cason Cunningham (Linfield College) earned the win by working a scoreless second inning. Khalil Rivera of Bend (Treasure Valley CC) and Corbin Powers of Cowlitz (Portland); and Tanner Howell (Dixie State), Jordan Qsar (Pepperdine) and Chase Kaplan (Kansas) of Corvallis all pitched scoreless frames for the South, with Kaplan throwing a scoreless ninth to earn the win. White, Cunnigham, Donovan and Howell each struck out a pair while Corvallis’ Dakota Donovan (Oregon State) allowed a run, but struck out three in his inning of work. Victoria’s Adam McKillican (UBC) and Travis Kuhn (San Diego), Walla Walla’s Darius Vines (Oxnard) and Kelowna’s Cal Hehnke (Nebraska-Omaha) all threw up zeros for the North with Kuhn and Hehnke striking out two a piece.
Johnson led the way with two hits for the North, while Granberg and Sordahl each tallied a multi-hit night for the South in the win. Granberg became the first player to hit two home runs in a West Coast League All-Star Game. Granberg is the third Cowlitz player to earn WCL All-Star Game MVP honors, joining Spencer O’Neil in 2011 and Kyle Knigge in 2013.
Corvallis’ Louis Crow (San Diego) was named the All-Star Game’s top prospect by the MLB scouts in attendance. He was one of three top prospects recognized with Victoria’s Indigo Diaz (Iowa Western CC) and the Knights’ Jordan Qsar rated #2 and #3, respectively.
With the win, the South is now 4-0 against the North in All-Star Games since the WCL changed from the East and West Divisions in 2013.
Now that the All-Star Game is over, all eyes shift towards the stretch run of the West Coast League season. Kelowna and Corvallis have already locked up playoff berths with their first half victories while Cowlitz (7-2) and Wenatchee (6-3) currently lead the way, respectively, in the WCL South and North.
WCL All-Star Game History
2006 at Wenatchee – East 6, West 6
MVP: Zach Borba (UNLV) of the Aloha Knights and DJ Lidyard (Lower Columbia College) of the Wenatchee AppleSox
Top Prospect: Darin Holcomb (Gonzaga) of the Spokane RiverHawks
HR Derby Winner: Darin Holcomb (Gonzaga) of the Spokane RiverHawks
2007 at Bellingham – East 4, West 1
MVP: Ryan Davis (Vanderbilt) of the Wenatchee AppleSox and Brandon Kuykendall (Benedictine College) of the Kitsap BlueJackets
Top Prospect: Matt Way (Washington State) of the Corvallis Knights
HR Derby Winner: Dillon Baird (Arizona) of the Wenatchee AppleSox
2008 at Moses Lake – East 2, West 2
MVP: Stephen Hagen (Oregon State) of the Kelowna Falcons
Top Prospect: Taylor Starr (Oregon State) of the Corvallis Knights
HR Derby Winner: Nick Freitas (Southern Utah) of the Kelowna Falcons
2011 at Corvallis – East 4, West 2
MVP: Spencer O’Neil (Oregon) of the Cowlitz Black Bears
Top Prospect: Ben Wetzler (Oregon State) of the Corvallis Knights
HR Derby Winner: Sean Myrom (Concordia) of the Corvallis Knights
2012 at Walla Walla – West 3, East 2
MVP: Connor Hofmann (Oregon) of the Corvallis Knights
Top Prospect: Taylor Williams (Kent State) of the Cowlitz Black Bears and Hunter Virant (UCLA) of the Walla Walla Sweets
HR Derby Winner: Taylor Sparks (UC Irvine) of the Wenatchee AppleSox
2013 at Victoria – South 7, North 5
MVP: Kyle Knigge (Lewis-Clark State) of the Cowlitz Black Bears
Top Prospect: Cody Poteet (UCLA) of the Walla Walla Sweets
HR Derby Winner: Cody Hough (UC Riverside) of the Klamath Falls Gems
2014 at Klamath Falls – RAINED OUT
HR Derby Winner: Gabe Clark (Oregon Staet) of the Victoria HarbourCats
2015 at Bellingham – South 3, North 0
MVP: Jake Scudder (Kansas State) of the Kitsap BlueJackets
Top Prospect: Cadyn Grenier (Oregon State) of the Bend Elks
HR Derby Winner: Hunter Villanueva (Fresno Pacific) of the Kelowna Falcons
2016 at Cowlitz – South 4, North 0
MVP: Kyle Nobach (Oregon State) of the Corvallis Knights
Top Prospect: Cameron Bishop (UC Irvine) of the Corvallis Knights
HR Derby Winner: Jake Vieth (Gonzaga) of the Bellingham Bells
2017 at Yakima Valley – South 5, North 2
MVP: Devlin Granberg (Dallas Baptist) of the Cowlitz Black Bears
Top Prospect: Louis Crow (San Diego) of the Corvallis Knights
HR Derby Winner: Chase Illig (West Virginia) of the Bellingham Bells