Rain doesn't stop Triple-A event
MIKE FEIFEL/TIMES NEWS Andy Tracy of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs reacts after one of his hits just misses clearing the fence in the Triple A Home Run Derby at Coca-Cola Park.
ALLENTOWN - As fans tried to get comfortable in their seats, "Mother Nature" had different plans on Monday night for the Triple A Home Run Derby as part of a prelude to Wednesday's All-Star game at Coca-Cola Park.
Just after the eight contestants were introduced, the skies opened up for what turned out to be a 90-minute delay. Intermittent rain drops continued to fall once the festivities began, but it didn't stop the overflow crowd from witnessing a bitter battle to the end by Andy Tracy of the host IronPigs and Durham's Dan Johnson.
When it was all said and done, Tracy had the longest blast in the final round measuring 462 feet, but Johnson prevailed in the five-out tiebreaker after both tied with 10 home runs.
"I truly thought it was overwith," said Johnson, after watching Tracy open the final round with the 10 dingers. "I knew how tired I was after the second round. All I had to do was hit one to reach the final, but I continued to bat trying to find my homer stroke. Hats off to Dave (Huppert). He found the groove and that was assume to see. He thrw so many pitches tonight and he did a good job."
Omaha's Alex Gordon started this off as he opened the first round with three homers in the first round that held up to earn him a spot in the second round.
Tracy, Johnson and Gordon were joined in the second round by Toledo's Jeff Frazier who hit two round-trippers.
D.J. King of Nazarth and Westyn Baylor of Bangor, two high school sluggers who earned spots in the derby in contests held earlier, each hit one over the wall. King rocketed a 345-foot shot to right and Baylor put a 375-foot shot into the bullpen area in left.
J.P. Arencibia of Las Vegas, who leads both the Major League and Minor League with 25 homers at the break, culd hit just one out. Albuquerque's Jay Gibbons, former Baltimore Orioles player, was the only participant not to hit a home run.
Down to his last four outs in the second round needing four home runs to advance, Tracy hit the next four over the fence for a total of eight and advance to the finals, eliminating Gordon, who finished with seven.
Johnson ended up hitting five in the second round, after blasting eight in the opening round for a total of 13 entering the final.
"It was a great finish," said Johnson, who actually wore won of Tracy's IronPigs T-shirts under his baseball uniform. "It was awesome out there. They were pumping the music, the crowd was getting loud and getting into it. I fed off that energy, digging a little deeper and getting a little extra on it."
Tracy had no problem cheering his competition on from the home team dugout as he watched his final swings.
"That felt great," Tracy said, of his 10-home run output in round two. "I went and sat down and everything just tightened up. It's a lot of swings. "
Festivities continued today with all-star workouts this afternoon with first pitch of the All-Star game set to happen at 7:05 on Wednesday evening.