FARMINGTON – Edgardo Villegas demonstrated he can crush the ball when it matters: in the big game, on the big stage.
"When I’m ahead in the count, I’m more of a free swinger. When I’m ahead in the count, I feel more confident just letting go,” the Florida Legends outfielder said in Spanish.
Villegas has already done it twice this summer in the Michigan Connie Mack World Series regional semifinals against Ontario, all while staring right at a 5-0 deficit in the fifth inning.
First, he hit a three-run shot to tie the game at 5-5. Later on, he hit a solo go-ahead home run to propel the Legends into regional finals. Florida then won the regional title and punched its ticket to the 2019 CMWS.
"That was the crucial thing: it was a moment when we needed it," coach Carlos Marti said. "We're definitely hoping it'll carry over. Once he does it with the place packed, I think his confidence will go to another level."
Villegas, who’s batting .353 this summer, also said he’s opening up his legs a little more in the batter's box and is keeping his hands back, waiting for that one ideal pitch to attack.
“I’m trusting in what I’m doing,” Villegas said, who hit a home run during pool play in his CMWS debut last year. “I’m very aggressive in the box. I like to compete and take my swings. Thankfully, we made it back here. I was able to help us get here, and I’m ready to go.”
Villegas is confident he can build on his regional semifinals performance and keep pounding the ball.
Only this time, Villegas said he looks to sit on that first pitch or two more to help him set up good contact.
“He’s got elite bat skills, and hopefully he can shine here on the big stage. He seems to make solid contact with the bat,” Marti said. “He's much more aggressive ahead in the count."
Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.
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