Updated July 22 2008
RedWolf Kleinknect Connects for Home Run Derby Crown
ASHEBORO, N.C. - (*The following story was written by Dennis Garcia, Sports Editor for the Courier-Tribune in Asheboro, N.C.)
While most hitters would rather take an aluminum bat to the plate with them, Florence’s Barrett Kleinknect said he would rather use a traditional wood bat.
During the Coastal Plain League’s Home run Derby Monday night at McCrary Park, he went out and showed why.
Kleinknect bested 15 other players by hitting a total of 13 home runs in three rounds of action to finish with 39 points, holding off Petersburg’s Greyson Schram, who finished with 36 points.
Asheboro’s Daniel Wagner hit one home run in the first round and went to a “home run-off” with two other players before being eliminated.
Kleinknect, who has hit four home runs this season, hit six in the first round, four more in the second round and three more in the finals against Schram to win the title.
“I hit better with wood,” said Kleinknect. “I just feel more comfortable with wood. I like the wood bat.”
Schram went first in the final round and hit four to reach 36 points. All points from each of the first two rounds rolled over to the finals.
“I didn’t hit any home runs in batting practice, but I just felt smooth out there,” said Schram. “Everything just felt right. I really wasn’t trying to hit home runs.”
Eight players from each the American and National team started the competition with the top three from each team advancing to the semifinals. Kleinknect, Forest City’s Kevin Mahoney, who leads the CPL in home runs with 11, and Thomasville’s Chris McGuinness, who won the “home run-off” between Wagner, Florence’s Jamie Walczak and himself, represented the American team. Representing the National team were Schram, Forest City’s Jordan Petraitis and Thomasville’s Sonny Meade.
Petraitis and Meade each came one home run away from tying Schram in the second round, setting up the finals.
“I didn’t think I would hit any,” said Kleinknect. “I just got in the zone.”
Kleinknect, from Francis Marion, also gave a lot of credit to Forest City coach Matt Hayes, who threw to him during the Derby.
“All the pitches were right there,” said Kleinknect. “He got in a groove. Most of it was him.”
A total of 58 home runs were hit in the competition, including a number of majestic shots well over the trees in left-centerfield.
“I heard the ball would carry really well to right field, but there were some bombs hit to left,” said Kleinknect.
Wagner said he was excited just to be in the competition.
“I was pretty nervous,” said Wagner, who has two home runs this season. “I was the last one to go. I killed it during batting practice and just had too much of a cool-off. I think I was trying to swing too hard.”