The eventual winner led in every round of Saturday's inaugural Home Run Derby
Tom Garboczi led or tied for the lead in every round of Saturday's inaugural Home Run Derby at Mount Vernon High School, before the Alexandria A's slugger ultimately walked off with the trophy in double-overtime. Twelve DC Wood players, representing the A's, Barons, Mudcats, and Navigators, showed up for the competition, and eight of the twelve managed to knock at least one fair ball out of the relatively deep MVHS park. Five competitors --Tom Lucchese of the A's (2+1=3), Shaun McEnhimer of the Barons (1+2=3), Paul McClure of the Barons (3+2=5), Matt Brown of the Barons (4+3=7), and Garboczi (5+4=9) -- advanced from the initial rounds to the Final.
The first round format was 5 minutes of unlimited swings, divided up into two heats, with players pairing up to swing for 2.5 minutes each. The Final was a traditional style, with each player getting 15 "outs," and home runs batted after the 14th out counted for 2x. No player took advantage of the bonus ball in the Final.
McEnhimer and Lucchese tied for 4th place with one dinger in the Final, and Brown and McClure clubbed four each. In dramatic fashion, Garboczi looked to be in trouble with only three outs left and just one home run. Then, he pounded three of the next four pitches over the left field fence to tie it, and soon found himself with the opportunity to walk off with the trophy on his final out. He hit a towering moonshot that came down directly on top of the fence and bounced back onto the field for his 15th out. Amazingly, this was the third time in the Derby that a player had bounced an "out" off the very top of the fence.
So there was a three-way tie for 1st place between the top three seeds, and the finalists went to a 5-out overtime.
Again batting last, Garboczi was faced with matching or exceeding Brown's and McClure's one home run in five outs, and after four quick outs with his left hand shredded with open blisters, he appeared done for the day. He then launched a lob by Lucchese over the left field wall to tie it. A quiet out later, and the fans in attendance were about to be treated to a second overtime.
In the third Final, nearly 2.5 hours after the start of the event, Brown and McClure both hit balls to the fence, but neither mustered a home run, putting Garboczi in a position to end it with just one home run across five outs. And end it he did, on the second pitch of his at-bat, with a no-doubter over the wall in left.
Congratulations to Tom and big thanks to all the competitors who participated in the Home Run Derby! Special thanks go out to Jake Glaser, Will Garcia, and Gene Kassman for assisting with the operations of the event. Video highlights will be posted in the next few days.