The designated hitter out of Moreno Valley, Calif., hit 12 homers in the annual home run derby
FARMINGTON — With one more home run than his closest opponent, Matt Zimprich of the Colton Nighthawks narrowly escaped Ricketts Park today as the Connie Mack World Series Home Run Derby champion.
The 6-foot, 215-pound Zimprich was the second-to-last hitter in the second round, and no one before him hit more than seven total home runs. Zimprich, a right-handed hitter from Moreno Valley, Calif., slugged four home runs in the first round and then separated himself from the pack by launching six balls out of the park in the second for a total of 10.
But Zimprich's lead wasn't safe around Top Tier's Bobby Seymour, of St. John, Ind., who went last in the second round. Seymour, a lefty, stepped to the plate having only hit two homers in the first round, but he caught fire with eight second-round bombs to improbably tie Zimprich.
"It was very worrisome to watch," Zimprich said. "After seeing guys in the first round, you start thinking, 'OK, he might hit two or three more,' but you don't expect them to be like the big leaguers and just start going back-to-back-to-back. It was just insane. I enjoyed watching it, but at the same time I regretted watching it."
In the first two rounds of the derby, every participant gets two minutes to hit as many home runs as they can. Zimprich and Seymour were tied at 10 homers apiece after the second round, and to determine a winner in the final, the rules changed so the batter who hit the most homers in 10 swings won the competition.
Zimprich blasted two in the final, while Seymour swatted one.
Zimprich said he found good chemistry with his batting-practice pitcher and Nighthawk teammate, Zach Grande, which he thought helped propel him to victory.
"We went to the cages this morning, and I told Zach, 'All you have to do is hit the same spot up and in, and we can get things done,'" Zimprich said. "Having a pitcher who consistently threw it where I knew I could hit it was a big relief."
The Coaches Fungo Skills Challenge followed the derby, and it was won by Dallas Tigers head coach Kyle Woods. Strike Zone assistant coach Damion Lovato represented Farmington as one of the participants.
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.