Shoemaker Wows Hometown Crowd, Wins Home Run Derby
Swing by swing the top eight home run hitters in the American Association put on quite a show in the Jack Links Home Run Derby at CHS Field as part of All-Star Monday. It came down to two rivals: the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks and St. Paul Saints. Leo Pina pushed Brady Shoemaker to the very end, but in a three pitch swing off, Shoemaker came away victorious sending the hometown crowd into a frenzy at CHS Field in front of 5,475.
The final pitted the two division foes against each other with Pina swinging first. He put up nine home runs in a timed three-minute final round. That gave Shoemaker a number to shoot for. With his Dad pitching to him he came out of the gates quick. His pace slowed down and he finished the three-minute timed round with seven. However, each home run hitter received one final ball, the Jack Links Beef Ball, worth two home runs. Shoemaker made it count, drilling it over the left-center field wall to tie the contest at nine and send the finals into a one-minute playoff. Pina once again went first and set the bar with five long balls. Shoemaker tied it up with about 20-seconds left, but couldn’t get another one to win it forcing a three-swing playoff. Pina hit the first pitch he saw out for his only home run of his three swings. Shoemaker then tied him with his first swing and, after taking a few pitches, crushed the winner over the left-center field wall to claim the title.
The Home Run Derby saw the #1 seed Keon Barnum, from the Chicago Dogs, lead the way in the first-round smacking 14 home runs, for a total of 15 points with the Beef Ball. He needed every bit of his score because Alay Lago of Sioux Falls put up 12. John Nester of the Cleburne Railroaders, and the #6 seed, smashed 12 home runs in the first round easily moving into the semi-finals.
In the semi-finals Shoemaker, the #4 seed, set the tone over Barnum with 15 home runs, and 16 points with the Beef Ball, the most points by any player on the evening. Barnum put up an impressive display in the semi-finals, but fell short with 11. In the other semi-final the #6 seed Nester chose to go first and finished with an impressive 10, but Pina topped him with 12 home runs (13 points with the Beef Ball).
The 2019 American Association All-Star Game will take place on Tuesday night at CHS Field as the North takes on the South at 7:05 p.m. The game can be seen on FOX Sports North Plus, on the FOX Sports Go app, and on americanassociationbaseball.tv ($5 charge). It can be heard on KFAN Plus, 96.7 FM or on the iHeart app and searching for KFAN Plus.
By Sean Aronson
Images by Kathy Stetz
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