LACONIA — Over 1,000 turned out on a warm and cloudy Sunday afternoon at Robbie Mills Field to watch the New England Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game, a pitcher's duel which saw Joe Torres of the host Muskrats cross the plate with the winning run in the eighth inning to give the East All-Stars a 2-1 victory.
License plates in the parking lots showed cars from as far away as Kansas, Missouri, Virginia. South Carolina and Georgia, with cars from New Jersey and New York nearly equaling those from the New England states combined with the exception of host state New Hampshire.
And while many were there to root for their family members or those playing in hometown teams of the 13-team league, there was another group of people present with a high interest in the assembled baseball talent; major league scouts were present representing nearly every one of the 30 major league baseball teams, many armed with charts and radar guns.
''It's a great day for us and for the league,'' said Muskrats general manager Noah Crane, as he watched the big crowd, which the NECBL said amounted to 1,012 people, coming into the ballpark.
Starting on the mound for the Eastern Division All Stars was Laconia's Will Blalock.
Blalock a junior from Lipscomb University, the second Muskrat pitcher to start an All Star Game, following Justin Wiley in 2011, surrendered the only run scored by the West in the first inning.
North Adams Steeple Cats second baseman Joe Landi lined a one-out single to right and moved to second on a ground out and scored when cleanup man JP Sportman of the Keene Swamp Bats doubled to the gap in left center. Dan Spignola of the Danbury Westerners followed with a single to center but Sportman was cut down at the plate by East centerfielder Andrew Sanromauro's throw to home.
The East tied the score in the third inning. Sanford's Troy Black led off the inning with a single, then stole second. An error allowed the inning to continue and Newport's Joel McKeithan tied the game with a base hit to center.
Pitching dominated through the next five innings and the East narrowly escaped in the seventh when the West squad had runners in scoring position. Travis Stout of the Plymouth Pilgrims worked his way out of the jam by getting a grounder and a strikeout.
In the bottom of the eighth, the East pulled ahead with a one-out single from All-Star Game MVP Joe Torres of the Muskrats starting the rally. The Laconia outfielder, after swinging and missing on a pitch in the dirt, lined a base hit to left. He then moved up to second when Carl Anderson was hit by pitch. Tyler Boyd of the Mystic Schooners then drilled a single to right and an errant throw by Vahn Bozoian of the Holyoke Blue Sox rolled through the diamond and allowed Torres to score.
Newport's Kyle Wilcox earned the win, Sanford's Steven Rice notching a save. The loss went to North Adams' Joe Anthony Rivera.
The John Watterson NECBL All Star Game MVP, named for the former Keene Swamp Bats manager, went to Torres. who plays for Iona College and leads the NECBL with 21 walks and 21 stolen bases.
The annual event started at 12:30 with player photos. Following photos was the 60 yard dash administered by MLB scouts. Cody Jones from the Newport Gulls was the NECBL's fastest runner, posting a time of 6.45 seconds. The Home Run Derby was won by Sanford's Nate LaPoint who defeated Holyoke's Vahn Bozoian.