America's League

Where the Stars of Tomorrow Shine Tonight!


All-Star Game Recap

07/24/2023 5:33 PM

Article By: Andrew Fantucchio

The Cape Cod Baseball League’s brightest stars descended upon White House Field in Harwich to thrill more than 6,000 fans at the annual Cape League All-Star game.

Out of the many players who participated, two stood out from the pack as Derek Bender (Bourne) and Jo Oyama (Orleans) were named the game’s co-MVPs.

“We face the best players in the country every day,” said Oyama, who played all nine innings for the East team. He went 1-3 with a walk and a stolen base in the game.

“It definitely makes me better as a player and a person. I’m grateful.”

On the other side, Bender led the West to a 7-1 victory, going 2-3 at the plate with an RBI. But even though he may have been at the center of the action, Bender took in the entirety of the experience around him.

“You play against these guys all summer, and it's always cheerful and laid back,” Bender said. “But even today, just l being out here and you get to meet the guys behind the baseball players.”

Bender competed in the Home Run Hitting Contest earlier in the day but fell in the first round to the competition’s eventual winner, James Tibbs of the Brewster White Caps, in the first round.

Tibbs won the contest by beating a field of Bender, his Brewster teammate Jared Jones, Hunter Hines (Y-D), Brody Donay (Hyannis) and Rene Lastres (Wareham). To follow up his performance, Tibbs had a hit in the game and drove in the East’s lone run.

The East’s low offensive output can be attributed to the stellar pitching from the arms the West continued to roll out. Cameron Hill (Cotuit) started on the hill and powered through the first inning, earning the win.

After Hill, Bourne Braves manager Scott Landers turned to a bullpen that proceeded to mow down hitters at the plate. It wasn’t until Oyama led off the bottom of the fourth inning that the East got its first hit of the night by beating out a softly hit ground ball to second base.

“Every single game, I try to play hard and try to help the team to win,” Oyama said. “Yeah, I think my speed is the biggest part of my game.”

Once on first, Oyama used his speed again to put himself in scoring by swiping second base and eventually scored on a single by Tibbs to tie the game at 1-1. Tibbs then tried to push the East out in front but was thrown out at home trying to score from first base on a ball in the gap off the bat of Bryan Arendt (Y-D) to end the inning.

In the next half inning, Bender gave the West the lead for good when he drove in his fellow Bourne Brave, Jonathan Vastine, with a base knock.

In total, Bender was joined by five of his Bourne teammates at the All-Star Game, as well as the entirety of their coaching staff after Bourne won the Cape League championship last season.

“We have a lot of guys returning from last year's CCBL championship team. Our coaches were there before, and it’s just riding those guys,” Bender said. “They keep giving us what we need to do to keep moving forward. Our bullpen has got to be strong, and the starting pitching has to be good because it’s really about who pitches and who defends the best, especially come playoff time.”

Bender and the Braves sit 12 points back of the West Division-leading Kettleers with only two weeks left to go in the season. It was already going to be a heated competition. But now, even more so after the All-Star game allowed enemies to become friends even for just a day.