O'FALLON, Mo. -- They didn't deliver any home runs or game-winning hits, or pick up any saves, but the three Southern Illinois Miners who represented the organization at the Frontier League All-Star Game on Wednesday night enjoyed every minute of the experience.
First-time all-star Chance Shepard was the designated hitter for the Experienced Team. And although he was unable to get a hit in two at-bats, he said it meant a lot to him to be competing with the league's best.
"I'm not elite yet, but I'm trying to get there," Shepard said. "When you're a little kid, you dream about playing professional baseball. And then to play in a (professional league) All-Star Game is really quite an honor."
Shepard said he is confident that the Miners will soar in the second half of the season.
"We're really close. I believe we're a really good team," he said. "We just have to play better team baseball. I think we'll be OK. As for me, I just need to keep my legs underneath me and not try to do too much. Don't get too high or too low."
Romeo Cortina came off the bench to play some left field. He also went 0-for-2 at the dish. Cortina played on the Rookie Team.
"I had a great time tonight competing and having fun with these guys. I just wanted to embrace the moment, soak it all in," he said. "This is my first All-Star Game and it was a real eye-opener. It was especially exciting because you never know the next time you will be here."
Cortina added that the Miners may have reached the All-Star break on a down note, dropping five straight, but is optimistic about the team's chances of winning the West Division and making the playoffs in the second half of the season.
Veteran relief pitcher Kyle Tinius threw a shutout inning for the Experienced Team.
"It meant a lot to me to be here tonight representing the Southern Illinois Miners," he said. "I am very happy to get this opportunity. I know I will never forget this experience. It's a tribute to all the hard work I have put in over the years."
Miners manager Mike Pinto, who led the Experienced Team to the win, described the game as "a lot of fun," adding that it was great to meet and get to know other players from around the league.
"And I think our guys had a blast, too," he said. "It was an honor for them to get selected and play in this game."
Pinto also sounded upbeat about the second half of the summer season, which begins this weekend on the road in Florence, Kentucky.
"We're going to have a workout tomorrow night (Thursday) and then get after it on Friday," he said. "I still like this team very much."