Rivets soak in all-star experience
In their inaugural season in the Northwoods League, the Rockford Rivets saw the hard work of three players get rewarded as University of Arkansas pitchers Anthony Dahl and Kacey Murphy and University of Illinois-Chicago infielder David Cronin got a chance to enjoy the festivities at the 2016 Northwoods League All-Star Game in Kenosha.
Murphy didn’t pitch in the game, a 9-5 North Division win, but still made sure he enjoyed the experience.
“I mean, it’s an honor, a great experience, and a lot of fun to be around players from so many schools, even more than we have on our own team,” he said. “I was able to really enjoy it this week.”
The lefthanded pitcher reflected on the luncheon earlier in the day that featured a speech by Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg.
“To have a Hall of Famer tell us how he got to where he is today hit really close to heart because that’s where all of us want to be someday, and it was great hearing about how he got there,” Murphy said.
For Dahl, the Home Run Derby, which took place on the harbor with competitors launching from the dock into Lake Michigan in front of 3,000 fans, was the highlight of the week.
“I thought having the Home Run Derby at the harbor on the water was really cool,” Dahl said. “It’s a setup I’ve never seen before and there probably isn’t too much in baseball that can actually top that setting.”
Kenosha’s Marty Bechina won the individual title by hitting seven home runs while the South Division took the team crown, 24-19
Dahl took the week as an opportunity to make new friends as well.
“It has been great to get to know players that we compete against, and getting to meet the North (Division) guys that we won’t otherwise get to see was really cool,” Dahl said.
David Cronin got a chance to play three innings at shortstop for the South Division All-Stars.
“The head coach (Craig Noto) asked me whether I’d rather play short or second base, and I really enjoy playing shortstop so I made that choice and had a lot of fun with it tonight,” said Cronin, 1-for-2 in the game. “To get a hit in my first at-bat in this All-Star Game was just perfect. I’m glad I got it out of the way early.
“Hard work really does pay off. To get to play in the All-Star Game in this league is just such a huge honor and something I will never forget.”