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Saunders Blanks National League in All-Star Debut

Joe Saunders, a West Springfield graduate, pitched one inning and allowed one hit in the American League’s 4-3, 15-inning win in the 79th annual Major League Baseball All-Star game on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, N.Y.

Michael Young's sacrifice fly in the 15th inning, gave the American League its 12 th straight win during a 4-hour, 50-minute marathon game that ended at 1:37 a.m. Boston’s J.D. Drew was selected as the game’s most valuable player.

Saunders, a left-hander for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, pitched the third inning. He retired the Cubs’ Kosuke Fukudome, who grounded out to first and Geovany Soto, who flied out to center. Saunders did allow Florida’s Hanley Ramirez to single to right, but got the Phillies’ Chase Utley to ground out.

Saunders played in the West Springfield Little League, and went 4-0 as a sophomore and 11-0 as a junior for the Spartans. He graduated in 1999, and led West Springfield to the Virginia AAA state title.

At Virginia Tech, he finished his three-year career with 27-7 record, leaving in a tie for third winningiest pitcher in Hokie history. He was the sixth pitcher taken in the 2002 MLB Draft.

Now Saunders, in his first full season in the rotation after two seasons as a spot starter, is tied for the American League lead in wins with 12. He was 5-0 in April with a 2.04 ERA in six starts and has maintained his consistency throughout the first half, yielding two or fewer runs in 12 of his 17 starts with a 3.04 ERA.

The Angels are currently first in the American League West, with a 57-38 record — six games ahead of second-place Oakland.