MANCHESTER, N.H. - Brock Holt was asked jokingly during Wednesday's Eastern League All-Star Game home run derby why he wasn't taking part in the slugfest, and he just sort of laughed off the question.
The Curve infielder clearly was saving his power for the game.
Holt, who has only one home run this season, belted a two-run shot in the second inning and was named MVP of the league showcase. His homer helped the Western Division stars to an 8-3 win over the Eastern Division before 7,517 fans at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
"It was a good night, and I'll remember this for a long time," Holt said by phone after the game.
Holt is the second Curve player in as many years and fourth in franchise history to be named MVP of the All-Star Game. Chase d'Arnaud won the honor last season in Harrisburg for hitting a grand slam, Brett Roneberg was 3-for-5 with three RBIs in the game at Blair County Ballpark in 2006 and Jeff Keppinger went 3-for-4 in 2004 at Bowie.
d'Arnaud, now a member of the Pirates, was on hand for part of the All-Star festivities the past two days visiting his brother Travis, a catcher for New Hampshire who was on the Eastern Division team. d'Arnaud had to leave before Wednesday night's game, however, to rejoin the Pirates in Houston.
The Curve coaching staff was in charge of the Western stars - because Altoona won the division last season - and pitching coach Wally Whitehurst was having some good-natured fun with Holt before his first at-bat against New Hampshire's Zach Stewart.
"I said, 'I'm gonna hit one, Wally,'" Holt recalled. "He said, 'If you hit a home run, I'm gonna be the first one out of the dugout.' I was rounding second, and he was the first one on the steps just dying laughing."
Holt has been one of the top hitters in the EL all season, ranking fifth with 100 hits to go along with a .287 average. He hit his only home run in 348 at-bats on May 10 at Harrisburg.
The left-handed hitter pulled his homer to right field Wednesday, giving the Western stars a 2-0 lead.
"It was a 1-1 count ... and he threw me a fastball inside," Holt said. "Luckily I was able to get the barrel on it and squared it up. It went over the wall pretty good, and it was a good feeling."
Holt grounded out to second in his only other at-bat, but the homer stood out enough to make him the MVP.
Holt wasn't the only Curve player to take something memorable out of the contest. Pitcher Aaron Pribanic was credited with the victory, despite enduring some troubles.
Pribanic came into the game with a 2-0 lead, two runners on and one out in the bottom of the sixth inning. Erie's Jacob Turner had allowed two baserunners, and Pribanic let both inherited runners score by giving up a single to Trenton's Austin Romine and double to Reading's Matt Rizzotti that tied the game at 2.
Pribanic escaped the inning by getting a lineout to third from Portland's Alex Hassan. The Western Division then took the lead for good with two runs in its next at-bat, so Pribanic was the pitcher of record and picked up the victory.
A four-run ninth inning helped the Western stars blow the game open.
Curve lefty Jeff Locke got to pitch in his home state for the first time in his professional career and threw a scoreless fourth inning, working around one hit and one walk. His defense helped him out by throwing out a runner at the plate. Locke is from North Conway, N.H., about 100 miles from Manchester.
Starling Marte started in center field, batted second and went 0-for-2 for the Western Division. Marte popped out to second base in the first inning and struck out swinging in the third.
Third baseman Jeremy Farrell was selected for the game but could not play because of a wrist injury.
The Curve All-Stars and coaches had a long trip ahead of them after the game to get ready for the start of the second half. Altoona plays tonight at Erie, so the players and coaches faced a 975-mile flight back to western Pennsylvania.
In Wednesday's Triple-A All-Star Game, former Curve first baseman Matt Hague, now with Indianapolis, went 0-for-1 with a walk and a run for the International League.