Express, Rebels lead VBL North’s all-star selections

Strasburg shortstop Tyler Halas drops the ball as he was preparing to turn a double play against Purcellville on June 9. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG – Rosters for the 2016 Valley Baseball League All-Star Game were announced Tuesday morning, and local teams will be well represented when some of the top players in the VBL hit the field Sunday at James Madison University’s Veterans Memorial Park in Harrisonburg.

Players from Strasburg and New Market will be especially prevalent at the 7:30 p.m. game – which pits the North Division against the South Division – as the two teams combined to put 13 players on the North’s 25-man roster.

Strasburg leads all local teams with seven players selected, including pitchers Drew Avans, Benjamin Dum and Keegan James, first baseman Dylan Ingram, second baseman Tyler Halas, third baseman Carter Pharis and outfielder Haiden Lamb.

“Seven on one team, three pitchers off of one team in a six-team division, that means that we’ve got three guys out of nine – that’s pretty good. And our guys have been pretty good, can’t take anything away from them,” Express manager Butch Barnes said, who added that the depth of talent on this year’s Strasburg team has been “plentiful.”

“Good group of guys. They really work hard. They put in their early work. They come to the ballpark ready to go. It’s a testament to them because they know the opportunity they have and they’re taking advantage of it.”

Ingram, a junior from Auburn University, ranked fourth in the Valley League in RBIs (20) through Monday, while Pharis was sixth in the league in batting average (.348) and seventh in RBIs (18).

New Market, which boasts one of the most powerful lineups in the VBL this summer, will send catcher Dan Kerwin, first baseman John Cable, second baseman Chase DeMars and outfielder Brendan Donovan to Harrisonburg, as well as right-handed pitchers Jonathan Bowlan and Terrell McCall.

Cable, a junior from the University of New Orleans who blasted three home runs for the Rebels in a loss to Harrisonburg last Saturday, entered Tuesday’s slate of games leading the league in RBIs (22) while ranking third in homers (five).

The Woodstock River Bandits had four players named to the North Division all-star team, including left-handed pitcher Drew Mancuso, shortstop Nick Ward and outfielders Danton Hyman and Jacob Tisevich. Mancuso, a junior from the University of the South, ranked sixth in the VBL in ERA (1.64) entering Tuesday.

Front Royal, the Valley League leader in team ERA, will be represented by left-handed pitcher Erne Valdes – who led the league with 39 strikeouts and ranked second in ERA (0.91) entering Tuesday – and shortstop Bernabe Camargo.

Barnes will serve as the manager of the North Division squad, while Harrisonburg’s Bob Wease will coach the South. Managers were determined by the teams with the best record in each division through July 1.

“I’m happy. I get to be with my guys again, get to be with the other guys that I don’t know that well,” said Barnes, whose team had the best record in the VBL (18-7) entering Tuesday.

“It’s always good to be around, especially on a special occasion like that. I’m not gonna tell you our dugout’s not relaxed, because it is, but we’ll really relax that night. It’s kind of fun. And there’s no pressure. … It’s for the fans.”

Sunday’s festivities will also include a 60-yard dash competition at 4:50 p.m. and the Home Run Derby at 5:20 p.m. Ingram (three home runs), Woodstock’s Cole German (four) and New Market’s Daulton Weeks (four) will compete in the Home Run Derby as part of the seven-man field.

Approximately 30 Major League Baseball scouts are expected to attend the All-Star game, according to the Valley Baseball League’s website.

Also Sunday evening, the Valley Baseball League will feature its inaugural Hall of Fame class at 7 p.m. The inductees include Wease, Dave Biery, Jim Lineweaver, Jim Phillips, Dayton Moore, Jimmy Key, David Eckstein, Johnny Oates, Charles “Tootie” Geil, John Radosevich and Mike Bocock.

Gates open to the public at 3 p.m.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com