Kingsport All-Stars shine in All-Star festivities


KINGSPORT, Tenn. – For the first time in Appalachian League history, the Kingsport Axmen hosted the Appalachian League All-Star festivities at Hunter Wright Stadium. The events spanned over two days and included a Skills Competition, a Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game, all of which included representatives from the Axmen.

On Monday, infielder Mike Mancini competed in the infield section of the Skills Competition. The competition proved tough to even score points, but Mancini was able to pick up one point, tying him for second place overall in the competition. He fell just short to Princeton’s Ellis Garcia, who took home the hardware.

Following the Skills Competition, the top four power hitters from the East and West All-Stars took to the field for the Home Run Derby. Infielder Deniel Ortiz was the No. 1 seed after entering the event tied for the league lead in home runs. In the first round, Ortiz battled with the June Player of the Month, Johnson City’s Colby Backus. Backus slugged four home runs, but Ortiz got off to a hot start, too, walking it off with five home runs.

In Round 2, Ortiz took on another Doughboy, this time Logan Sutter. Sutter hit a round-best eight home runs in the first to defeat Greeneville’s Joel Dragoo but seemingly ran out of gas against Ortiz, hitting just one home run. Ortiz was easily able to overpower Sutter, hitting two home runs to move on to the finale.

The finale pitted Ortiz against Bluefield’s Tommy Harrison, the lone lefty in the derby. Harrison still had more gas left in the tank, hitting three home runs. Ortiz, as he had done in the prior two rounds, walked off the final round with a deep shot over the left field wall, winning the derby in front of the hometown fans.

On Tuesday, the West All-Stars battled the East All-Stars in the All-Star Game, with the West defeating the East, 3-2. Kingsport had four representatives in the game, including Ortiz and Mancini who started at third base and second base, respectively. Ortiz was hitless in the game but drew a pair of walks. Mancini delivered the biggest hit of the game as he tripled home a run in the first inning en route to being named the All-Star Game MVP.

Pitchers Ricky Reeth and Hollis Fanning also represented the Axmen. Reeth pitched in the second inning, allowing two hits and one run while picking up a strikeout in the process. Fanning pitched in the fifth inning, giving up zero runs and striking out two.