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Going Yard

Athletes participate in MLB Jr. Home Run Derby

Competition hosted by Edenton Steamers

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Hunter Belangia, 14, of Currituck connects on a home run during the MLB Jr. Home Run Derby baseball competition at Hicks Field, Saturday, May 4, 2019 in Edenton. Belangia won the Under-14 area competition. The area competition was hosted by the Edenton Steamers.

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By Malcolm Shields
Sports Editor

Sunday, May 5, 2019

EDENTON — Youth baseball players from Currituck to Hertford counties got the chance to swing like the big leaguers at the Major League Baseball Jr. Home Run Derby local competition Saturday morning at Hicks Field.

The area competition was hosted by the Edenton Steamers.

There were two divisions: age 12 and under and age 14 and under.

Each player had 10 outs to hit as many home runs as possible.

An out is recorded when a participant swings at the ball and the ball does not go over the fence in fair territory.

Instead of trying to hit a home run over 300 feet, which is around the dimensions of the main outfield wall from left to right field at Hicks field, the younger participants had much shorter distances to clear.

According to Edenton Steamers general manager Tyler Russell, the distance for the fence for the under-12 competition was 170 feet from home plate, while for the under 14 competition, the distance was 200 feet from home plate.

Both distances were around the shallow outfield at Hicks Field.

The under-12 competition featured multiple athletes.

Gavin Pierce, 11, from Edenton, Brendan Lanigan, 12, from Moyock and Peyton Liverman, 11, from Ahoskie took their swings during the round.

Pierce and Lanigan each finished the round with three home runs.

The two faced off in a tiebreaker round where each athlete had five outs to hit home runs.

Lanigan defeated Pierce 4-2 in the extra round to win the under-12 local competition.

Currituck’s Hunter Belangia, 14, was the only participant to compete in the under-14 competition as he belted six home runs.

By winning the local competition, Lanigan and Belangia advanced to the regional competition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in June.

Russell added that the format, field dimensions and type of ball at the regional will be the same to what was used at Saturday’s local competition.

“It should be very familiar once they get there,” Russell said.

The national finals will be held during the MLB All-Star week in Cleveland, Ohio in July.

The Cleveland Indians host the 2019 MLB All-Star Game July 9.

After the competition, some adults got in on the home run derby action.

Currituck County Middle School athletic director and physical education teacher Cody Eaves, who pitched to the kids during the derby, took his hacks afterwards and sent a few balls over the main fence at Hicks Field.

Last year, Owen Black of Mufreesboro was a 14 and under national finalist in the MLB Jr. Home Run Derby.

Russell said that there is a lot of good, young baseball talent in the area.

“I thought this area deserved the opportunity to showcase that,” he said. “By these guys having the opportunity to go on to a regional event in Pennsylvania, I thought was a good opportunity, not only for us, but for these kids too.”

Russell acknowledged that hosting future MLB Jr. home run derbies is something the Steamers want to do.

“We’re glad to have the opportunity this year and we look forward to doing it every year and making it a bigger and better event,” he said.

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