Safe at home: Terre Haute North graduate and 2006 Indiana Mr. Baseball Josh Phegley of the South All-Stars slides into homeplate to score during the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association 2006 North-South All-Star Series on Saturday at Rose-Hulman. Phegley was named Most Valuable Player of the series.

Jared Baehl found the best wooden bat in the rack and Josh Phegley added daring baserunning to his vast array of baseball gifts Saturday at Rose-Hulman’s Art Nehf Field.

And as a result, the South team defeated the North 6-2 in the rubber game of the 2006 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association’s North-South All-Star Series and Terre Haute North’s Phegley earned Most Valuable Player honors for the weekend.

The North, which swept three of the first five series, still leads the 32-year-old competition 50-43 and appeared at various times during the weekend at Rose-Hulman to have the deeper and stronger team.

But Phegley, named the state’s Mr. Baseball at Thursday’s banquet and presented with the plaque for that honor prior to Saturday’s game, shook off his Thursday night illness to play all nine innings Saturday — first behind the plate, then on the mound, then behind the plate again — and Baehl of North Posey got the game’s two biggest and longest hits.

Exclusive use of wooden bats made Saturday’s game a shattering experience for at least two hitters, and scoring was down considerably from the 32 runs scored during the split of Friday night’s doubleheader.

North got the game’s first run in the top of the third inning when Whiting’s Matt Kobli singled, got to third on a dropped pickoff throw and a wild pitch and scored on an infield hit by New Haven’s Matt Bischoff. Vincennes Lincoln pitcher D.J. Smith finally escaped further trouble when North cleanup hitter Joe Mack’s bat splintered on a swing that resulted in a weak grounder back to the mound.

Crown Point’s Matt Jensen and Bickel combined for four hitless innings on the mound for the North team, but an error in the bottom of the fifth opened the door for some South offense. Carmel’s Dan Black reached on the error and Franklin’s Bart Carter followed with a broken-bat infield single. Baehl then doubled to the wall in left field, driving in both runners.

Phegley, who had taken over on the mound in the top of the fifth, gave himself an insurance run in the sixth. He hustled to second for a double on a blooper to short right field, went to third when Black grounded to the right side, and broke for home on the throw to first after Evansville Harrison’s Kipp Schutz had tapped back to the mound.

He slid in safely, although catcher Trent Bierman of Griffith argued the call at the plate.

“For any other team, I probably wouldn’t have tried that,” Phegley said of his aggressive and surprising play, “but it worked.”

Phegley gave up a run in the top of the seventh on a walk to Kyle Benbow and a two-out RBI single by Anderson’s Michael Earley (who probably would have been series MVP had North won Saturday). Then he returned to catching duties as Baehl and Carter nailed down the win — and he left after the all-star series to play a doubleheader for Wayne Newton Post 346 in American Legion baseball.

“We had nine pitchers, so that’s three innings apiece,” Phegley said, “but I was like, ‘If you need another inning or so …’ And [the South coaches] came up to me in the bottom of the fourth and said I’d be pitching the top of the fifth.”

South padded its lead in the bottom of the seventh when Baehl walked and pinch-runner Deaun Williams of Ben Davis stole second, forced a balk by breaking for third while the North pitcher was in the set position, and scored on a wild pitch.

In the bottom of the eighth, Shakamak’s Jared Rehmel created a run by beating out an infield hit and taking second on the overthrow at first, stealing third — again while the pitcher was still in the set position — and scoring when the throw to third was mishandled. A two-out triple by Carter and another long double by Baehl completed the scoring.

The weekend, said Phegley, “Couldn’t have been any better,” even though he was sick most of Thursday night. “Everything was falling for me.”

Asked about the MVP award, Phegley said, “I figured I had a chance [to win it]. Hitting that homer in my first at-bat [Friday night] probably made an impression on a lot of people. But it could have gone to a bunch of guys. There are lots of good players here.”

North All-Stars 001 000 100 — 2 5 3

South All-Stars 000 021 12x — 6 9 2

Jensen (Crown Point), Bickel (Huntington North, 4), Kobli (Whiting, 7) and B.Clark (Lake Central), Bierman (Griffith, 6); Smith (Vincennes Lincoln), Merkley (Forest Park, 4), Phegley (Terre Haute North, 5), Baehl (North Posey, 8), Carter (Franklin, 9) and Phegley, Vandeventer (Whiteland, 5), Phegley (8). W — Phegley. L — Bickel.

Highlights — For the South team, Jared Baehl had two doubles and three RBI; Bart Carter had a single and triple; Josh Phegley had a double; Dan Black (Carmel), Brett Merkley, Jared Rehmel (Shakamak) and Brad Schnepp (Pendleton Heights) all had singles and Deaun Williams (Ben Davis) had three stolen bases. For the North team, Matt Bischoff (New Haven) and Michael Earley (Anderson) had run-scoring singles and Matt Kobli, Bobby Mosser (Lafayette Central Catholic) and Nick Overmyer (LaPorte) also had singles.

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