It takes a lot to steal the show from Billy Hamilton.
But with a solo home run in the 1st and an RBI double in the 5th, Brian Goodwin did just that, leading the AFL East to a 9-4 win in the 2012 Rising Stars game.
The opposing center fielders* were the, um, centerpiece of the showcase — Hamilton drawing a leadoff walk and stealing both second and third in the 1st inning, the second swipe coming on the throw back to the mound when Hamilton spotted Yankees farmhand Austin Romine taking just a tad too long.
* Yes, I know Goodwin started the game in LF — don’t let the facts get in the way of the narrative…
Hamilton scored easily on the double that followed as the AFL West took a 2-0 lead early.
Goodwin cut the lead in half in bottom of the 1st, taking a 2-1 fastball that caught too much of the plate and depositing it on the outfield berm in right field while nearly hitting an oblivious “fan.”
The two 22-year-olds were again linked when Goodwin drove the ball to the edge of the warning track in left-center in the 3rd, as Hamilton initially misread the ball then used his 80-grade speed to correct course and make a leaping grab.
Hamilton couldn’t catch Goodwin’s next hit, a blast to off the right-center wall that drove in a run as part of the AFL East’s six-run 4th that turned a 4-3 deficit into the game’s eventual 9-4 outcome.
Goodwin would finish the game 2-for-5 with two runs scored and two runs driven in, making two putouts — one apiece in left field and center field.
Aaron Barrett and Anthony Rendon would also see time in the game. Barrett would give up a hit and strike out a batter, but was charged with a run when Cubs reliever Tony Zych gave up a bunt single to (you guessed it) Hamilton that turned into a Little League triple with a throwing error. A subsequent single and double made the Barrett’s run earned, but the 24-year-old still earned a hold.
Rendon would come off the bench and play third. He flew out to left in his sole at-bat and snagged a bunt popup by you-know-who and threw out a runner atr second on a grounder during his four innings on defense.
The Salt River Rafters return to action tomorrow with a day game in Peoria as they attempt to catch the Scottsdale Scorpions over the final 10 games of the 2012 AFL season.