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Sabol and Torkelson meet in Home Run Derby Final

by Peter Warren
Monday, July 23, 2018

Sabol and Torkelson meet in Home Run Derby Final

HARWICH — Despite being the two hitters with the most regular season home runs in the Home Run Hitting Contest, Blake Sabol (Southern California) and Spencer Torkelson (Arizona State) were unable to emerge as champions..

Instead, Torkelson’s college teammate Carter Aldrete (Arizona State) of the Orleans Firebirds secured the title of 2018 Home Run Hitting Contest champion.

Aldrete hit 11 home runs in the final round of the competition, one more than Torkelson — who came into the competition as the favorite. Sabol, who also made the final round of the derby, hit seven home runs in the final round.

With rain starting to drizzle on the field, Torkelson started the final round with an electrifying ten home runs. With tons of “atta boys” yelled from Chatham’s Alek Manoah (West Virginia) in the crowd, Torkelson peppered home runs and line drives all over the field.

“I didn’t know Spencer hit 10 in the second round because I am not watching,” Randy Whisler, Chatham third-base coach and Home Run Hitting Contest thrower to Sabol and Torkelson, said. “When I looked up and saw he had 10, I thought he would probably win it.”

After Torkelson’s round of 10 dingers, Aldrete put up his number of 11, setting the stage for Sabol to try and win it.

Sabol hit a lot of balls hard, but many were line drives that fell before flying over the fence. When the final buzzer sounded and Sabol stumbled out of the box after giving one final mammoth cut, the crown belonged to Aldrete.

Sabol, who hit only four long balls during the spring season, said he did not have high expectations.

“I definitely got tired towards the end but it was a lot of fun being out there and representing Chatham and the East,” Sabol said. “When I was getting in a grove with “Whis” out there and putting on a show for the fans, it was nice.”

In the first round, Torkelson went head-to-head with Matthew Barefoot (Campbell) of the Hyannis Harbor Hawks. Because the East Division was the home team in the All-Star Game, all the players from the East hit second in their first-round matchups. Barefoot hit only three home runs in his two minutes while Torkelson cruised to the finals, hitting his fourth home run with plenty of time left on the clock.

After Aldrete beat Bourne’s Spencer Brickhouse (East Carolina) five homers to four. Sabol went up against Todd Lott (Louisiana-Lafayette) of Hyannis. Lott hit six homers, forcing Sabol to to hit at least seven to advance.

“For the Home Run Derby, you have to dig deep,” Sabol said. “When you can tell your body was getting tired and want to stop, you have to push through it. I was trying to yank the ball to right field cause I knew that’s where I was going to get my home runs.”

Sabol obliged, knocking seven round-trippers in front of his ecstatic East Division and Anglers teammates. After hitting his seventh, Sabol yelled in excitement as his East teammates came over to celebrate with him.

For Whisler, this was not his first home run derby in which he was pitching. He said he has thrown a few before, including one where he threw to his son.

“When Spencer asked me if I would I said ‘yea,’” Whisler said. “I was honored. You see the excitement, watching everybody have fun and cheering them on. It was a lot of fun.”