BRISTOL - Joe Silva got a final cheer from the crowd when the FCBL All-Star Game had ended Tuesday, posed for pictures with his teammates and recounted what it was like to provide the most important moment of the night.
“It’s a great feeling,” Silva said. “Nothing beats a game-winning hit, no matter what it is, for your team, whether it be the East All-Stars or the Brockton Rox.”
With the East Division All-Stars needing a big hit to break up a scoreless game in the top of the fourth inning, Silva was the one that delivered.
With one swing of the bat, the Rox outfielder took the first pitch of his second at-bat over the Babe Ruth sign on right field fence, just over the outstretched glove of a leaping Joseph Caico.
Silva circled the bases, touched home plate and was congratulated by his teammates back in the dugout. He had put the East up 2-0, which remained the score until the final out in the bottom of the ninth, giving the East its third straight All-Star Game win.
But even as he watched the ball leave the bat, Silva wasn’t sure that it would even leave the park.
“We had the leadoff guy on with one out and I heard someone say, ‘Alright here we go now,’” Silva said. “I was looking for a middle-in fastball and that’s what I got. I just got the barrel out in front and the ball carried a little bit. I was fortunate enough to get that opportunity and not miss it.
“I knew I hit it pretty well. I saw the right fielder go back and he climbed the wall. At that point, I knew it was gone. I heard he almost robbed it, but when I saw him climb the fence, I knew it out. I was running and I was just thinking, ‘get out ball, get out’ and it got out, so I was fortunate.”
Even the West was not sure it would make it over the wall.
“It carried pretty well, but I honestly thought Caico had it,” West outfielder Ben Maycock said. “It looked like a pretty routine, but pretty deep fly ball. I was surprised honestly. It didn’t look like it was pieced up that well.”
Silva has not been known as a power hitter this season for Brockton. Through 39 games, the Concordia University-Chicago junior has just two, following the three he hit during the college season. In his first at-bat in the second inning, Silva flew out to left field, but he returned to the dugout and made an adjustment for the fourth.
“My whole mindset was to be selective aggressive, it usually always is, especially in the All-Star Game,” Silva said. “You wanna show out a little bit, show what you’re made of. My first at-bat, I caught the barrel and didn’t get all of it. But I was confident in my next at-bat, that I’m on the right track, my timing is going to get there, hopefully I get another fastball.”
Now with 17 games left in the season and the Rox atop the East standings, Silva sees the All-Star Game as a possible springboard for a strong finish to the summer both for himself and his team.
“We’ll see in the second half,” Silva said. “I’m definitely going to try and use it as a momentum and confidence booster. But baseball is a crazy game, I could have just as easily gone 0-for-3 with three Ks and you just never know what can happen on the baseball diamond.
“I just have to keep an even keel and look forward to getting back to work Thursday against Pittsfield.”