Prepare for some Fourth of July fireworks at Daniel Fernandez Park when the Los Lunas Men’s Softball League holds its 10th Annual All-Star Game.
The league’s most explosive players in the American and National divisions will match-up at 7 p.m. on Thursday. The fuse gets lit with a good, old-fashioned home run hitting contest, scheduled to start at about 5:30 p.m.
It’s gonna be a hot show. Dennis Kerns, who selected this year’s All-Stars along with league statistician Dave Romigh, helped make sure of that.
“We took the 14 hottest players at this moment. They’re the hottest players,” Kerns said.
Kerns said some players who might be considered among the league’s best were left off the rosters due to injuries or because they just weren’t “hot.” Roster sizes were also reduced this year from 18 to 14.
One player hot enough to be an All-Star is J.T. Garcia of the Los Chavez Machetes. A five-year veteran of the league, the third-baseman is excited to play in his first All-Star affair. “It’s good. All my friends will be there. It’ll be fun,” he said.
Garcia’s friends on the American Division team include Jose Torres of the Longshots, Jason and Perry Kelly of Sunrise Builders Team Poison, Lenny Baldonado, Chava Garcia, Julio Peguero and Wayne Robertson of the Socorro Magic and six members of powerful, division-leading Bar III/Two Minute Warning — Shawn Ammons, Ramon Barela, Tony Bernal, Marcus Miller, Raymond Piper and Lawrence Sandoval. Barela will serve as player/coach.
The National Division All-Star roster consists of Art Chavez of the Rebels, Leonard Jaramillo of the Diamondbacks, Paul Aguilar, Zack Stephenson and Aaron Yalch of the Crushers, Randy Castillo, Keesy and Paul Cieremans and Billy Gurule of the Bandits and Eliseo Aguirre, Dave and Ray Chavez, Rob Sexsmith and James Scott of the Royals. Jim Morales of the Royals will manage the team.
Kerns said the game will showcase some of the best talent in the area, many of them former Belen and Los Lunas high school baseball players.
The league’s power hitters will be on display for the home run hitting contest. Ten players will pay $10 for 10 swings. The player who hits the most over the fence wins the cash.
“I don’t think anyone has won it besides Ramon Barela and Shawn Ammons,” Kerns said.
Barela and Ammons have to be considered the favorites again this year, but there are certainly challengers — such as the Crushers’ Aaron Yalch, who leads the league with 21 homers this season.
“He’s swinging the stick pretty good right now, so he’s got a good chance,” Kerns said of Yalch. “Zach Stephenson of the Crushers has a good chance of wining it. Bar III has four or five guys with a chance to win it. And Paul and Keesey Cieremans, they’ve been hitting the ball pretty well this year, so they have a chance, too.”
It’s anybody’s guess who will win the dinger derby and the ballgame to follow. One thing is for sure, though: it’s going to be hot, and there’s going to be some fireworks.