County residents enjoy All-Star experience

Edgewood graduates Ronnie Kalil (left) and Jamie Hochschild wait to get into the Celebrity Game at Progressive Field Sunday. The couple spent several days in Cleveland partaking in All-Star festivities.

 

Ronnie Kalil and Jamie Hochschild are preparing their wedding nuptials for next year.

For this year, instead of going to a beach for a vacation, the Edgewood graduates decided to travel west an hour to Cleveland for a trip centered on baseball and All-Star festivities.

The couple spent the last several days partaking in several events, including Play Ball Park at the Huntington Convention Center, the Celebrity Game, Futures Game and Red Carpet Game.

As season-ticket holders, the couple had the opportunity to choose between the Home Run Derby or the All-Star Game.

They opted for the Home Run Derby.

“Cleveland absolutely killed it,” Kalil said. “They thought of everything you can think of.”

At Play Ball Park, a popular destination for the locals and those from out of town, Kalil and Hochschild checked out trophies and Hall of Fame items.

The Celebrity Game featured Team Cleveland against Team World Sunday.

“We saw (former Indians player) Travis Hafner hit one out and (former Indians player) Kenny Lofton play,” Kalil said. “There were a lot of local people there. They put on a good show.”

Team World eventually ended up winning 21-16.

Next up was the Futures Game. The American League vs. National League game ended in a 2-2 tie after eight innings with winds gusting as high as 25 miles per hour.

“It was good to watch some of the Indians future players before they make it,” Kalil said.

Third baseman Nolan Jones, playing for Class A Lynchburg, and outfielder Daniel Johnson, on Triple A Columbus, represented the Indians.

But for Kalil, the highlight was undoubtedly Monday’s Home Run Derby.

“It was awesome,” he said. “I’ve been watching it since I’ve been 6 years old.”

Mets rookie sensation Pete Alonso ended up defeating Toronto Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 23-22 in the finals for the title.

But Guerrero Jr. stole the show with a record 91 homers on the night, including an epic 40-39 three-tiebreaker semifinal win over Los Angeles Dodgers’ Joc Pederson.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Kalil said of Guerrero Jr’s performance. “To hit many home runs … they were shots. You can tell in the finals the balls he was hitting out earlier were falling short.”

Kalil is looking forward to the second half of the Major League Baseball season to start, especially with the Indians’ recent surge. They have moved to within 5.5 games of the Minnesota Twins for first place in the American League Central Division.

“This is a big series coming up,” Kalil said of this weekend with Cleveland hosting Minnesota. “Just want to win the series and get ready for another playoff push.”

But looking back, Kalil said enjoying the All-Star experience with Hochschild was a lifetime experience.

“Cleveland did a great job,” he said. ‘This is something special and something I’ll never forget.”

For Joe Zappitelli, he had a unique All-Star experience.

As General Manager for Greg Sweet Chevrolet Buick, he and Sweet drove Major League players and their families and friends during the Red Carpet Parade prior to the All-Star Game Tuesday afternoon.

Zappitelli drew Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox and his family and Paul DeJong of the St. Louis Cardinals and his family and friends.

“It was awesome,” Zappitelli said. “There were 70 some trucks in the parade. It was a true red carpet over a mile. The streets and sidewalks were literally full.”

Zappitelli enjoyed the experience with his son, Jake, who was also in the truck.

Greg Sweet drove Wade Miley of the Houston Astros and J.T. Realmuto of the Philadelphia Phillies. Sweet enjoyed the experience with his son, Dylan.

After returning the trucks to the dealership, Zappitelli and Sweet attended the All-Star Game.

The highlight for Zappitelli was an easy one.

“(Indians pitcher) Shane Bieber’s dominating one inning was the highlight,” Zappitelli said. “It’s nice to see Bieber come through.”

Bieber earned Most Valuable Player honors for striking out the side in his one inning of work in the fifth.

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