Area baseball fans got a treat Thursday as two former high school stars and now major league players faced each other on the diamond.
Former Long County Blue Tide ace and now Miami Marlin relief pitcher Dustin McGowan took on former Appling County Pirate slugger and now Minnesota Twin centerfielder Byron Buxton.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, with the Marlins leading 10-2, McGowan was called on to help shut down the Twins. After striking out Robbie Grossman and after Eduardo Nunez flied out to right field, McGowan saw Buxton coming to the plate.
McGowan’s first pitch was a 95-mph fastball that was called a ball. His second pitch was clocked at 94 mph, and Buxton hit it over the left-field wall but foul. McGowan notched it up a bit and threw a 97-mph fastball, which Buxton also fouled.
With the players staring each other down, McGowan threw a second 97-mph fastball, and Buxton struck out swinging.
Minnesota added one more run in the ninth, giving Miami the 10-3 win.
For the night, McGowan threw 11 pitches, including eight strikes. This year, McGowan has seen action in 18 games and has a 0-2 record. His ERA is currently 3.44.
Buxton went 1 for 3 against the Marlins on Thursday, posting one single and scoring one run. In 29 games this year, Buxton has a .214 batting average and four RBIs, and has scored nine times.
McGowan, 34, was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the first round of the 2000 draft and played there until 2014. Last year, he was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies and then earlier this year, was picked up by the Marlins. Buxton, 22, was also a first rounder, being selected by the Twins in 2012 with the second overall pick in the draft.
Through Monday, the Marlins were third in the National League Eastern Division with a 32-31 record. The Twins were 19-43, last in the American League Central Division.