Home team enjoys all-star outing

STATE COLLEGE — It’s special to be an all-star in professional baseball, regardless of the level of play.

Three Spikes players — Nick Dunn, Edwin Figuera and Delvin Perez — had the unique experience of playing in the New York-Penn League All-Star Game with a sense of home field advantage at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

The experience is something that all three players have put a lot of man-hours into and were excited to soak in the occasion.

It was a reunion of sorts for second baseman Dunn — a player who grew up in Sunbury and played his high school ball at Shikellamy. He expected a large number of friends and family to be in attendance.

“You’re always a little nervous, but I’m more excited for them to be here and watch me play,” Dunn said. “It means a lot to me to be able to play in the all-star game and have my friends and family here.”

Dunn is hitting .263 entering the break, and is a rarity in this day and age with more walks (21) than strikeouts (18). Seeing Dunn strike out is a rare event, as pitchers need an average of more than 10 at-bats to get that result. He is the current leader in RBIs (29) and second on the team in total bases (73).

“I love Dunn’s patient at-bats,” Figuera said. “That’s one of the biggest keys to him.”

Figuera was quick to point to his work ethic as the main reason he got invited to represent the South Team and the Cardinals organization.

“I’m happy. I’ve been working real hard,” he said. “It’s been a dream of mine since I was young to make an all-star team. I understand my grind this year has put me in this spot.”

The designated hitter is fourth on the Spikes in hits (47) and in a race — he is only three hits shy of tying the team leader and leads the club with 12 stolen bases.

Perez was thrilled to have the chance to play in the game and have the opportunity to join Dunn as a middle infielder.

“For me, the first time being selected for the all-star game in pro baseball, it’s awesome,” Perez said. “It’s fun.”

Perez is tied for second on the team with 24 walks. He also has two triples on the campaign — second best for the Spikes.

“Delvin just looks natural playing in the field,” Perez said. “He looks fluid and knows how to play the game (at this level) already.”

The three were psyched to play along with some of the best talent the New York-Penn League has to offer.

“I’m excited to meet all the guys on the teams and being out there with the best players in the league. It’s pretty special,” Dunn said.

Figuera added “I’m looking to have a good time and meet all the players. I’m going to meet the best players in the league and have a good time.”

The three were happy to get the chance to play in such a special event in front of the fans.

“That’s my home field and the crowd is amazing here,” Perez said. “It’ll be fun with all the fans.”

With friends and family in attendance, Dunn was excited to share the experience with two of his teammates.

“They’re good players,” he said. “It’s kind of a bonus that I’ve gotten to play along with them for the whole season.”

The three will likely look back on the occasion at some point down the road, but for now, it’s about soaking in the moment and having fun along the way.

Then it’s back to business with the Spikes and working on certain aspects of the game to get through the Cardinals’ ranks.

Perez has seen improvement with his defense and would like to see the work pay off with his batting. Dunn wants to work on the durability needed to play the game every day while Figuera just wants to keep doing the things that have gotten him to this point.

“There’s always rooms for improvement, whether it’s offense or on the field,” Dunn said. “With having to play everyday, you have to make adjustments.”