Prince William Cannons right-hander Cliff Politte was a 54th-round draft pick in 1995, and in many ways he is still trying to prove to the parent St. Louis Cardinals that he can play.

Frederick Keys left-hander and Gonzaga High graduate Dan Reed was hit pretty hard last season when he played for two Class A California League teams.

Both took a step in their development tonight in the Carolina-California league all-star game, albeit in a losing cause. The California League all-stars scored five runs in the top of the eighth inning for a 6-5 win before 6,419 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

Politte and Reed each struck out three California League hitters in an inning and they combined to hold California scoreless through the first four innings. Frederick right-hander Francisco Hernandez pitched a scoreless fifth, and Prince William left-hander Armando Almanza did the same in the seventh, before the game turned badly for Carolina in the eighth.

Kinston shortstop John McDonald's throwing error with two outs in the eighth brought home two runs and provided the winning margin. San Bernardino first baseman Mike Mitchell, voted the game's most outstanding player for the California League, added a two-run single in the inning.

The Keys had four representatives at the game, the Cannons two. Politte, 23, started for the Carolina League, giving up a hit and a run, but he also struck out four consecutive batters, including all three he faced in the second inning. Politte, who went 14-6 with a 2.59 earned run average for Class A Peoria of the Midwest League last season, leads the Carolina League with an 8-1 record and 1.94 ERA.

Being such a low draft pick out of Jefferson (Mo.) Junior College, he's always felt he's had to prove himself in the professional ranks.

"I didn't expect to put up these kind of numbers," Politte said. "I did want to prove that last year wasn't a fluke and I've started out decent this year." NORWICH 4-1, BOWIE 0-5: Kevin Loman allowed four hits over seven innings, striking out eight as the Navigators split a Class AA Eastern League doubleheader in Norwich, Conn.