Dartmouth Slugger Defends Canadian HR Title

In a battle to determine Canadian power hitting supremacy, it came down to couple of lefties from the Maritimes. Jody Peterson of the Fredericton Peterbilt/Dairy Queen Royals and Darren Doucette of the crowd favourite Dartmouth Moosehead Dry had only one home run separating them in the final round, but its was Doucette that sent the nearly 1,000 fans home happy.

On a cool evening with a blustery crosswind that occassionally was blowing straight in, home runs were hard to come by. It was tough conditions for the long ball, especially for right-handed hitters. A number the early competitors were able to hit the ball hard, but the wind would either knock it down or their attempts to keep it out of the wind resulted in stinging line drives. Those line drives will be much appreciated I’m sure during the regular play of the tournament, but on this night they weren’t enough.

All this made for some lower home run totals. That is, until Jody Peterson stepped to the plate in the first round.

Peterson’s first round was the best single round of the evening. He peppered eight dingers, all to left field, some of the moon-shot variety. Up until that point no batter had been able to hit more than one in the round and his total was more than all other competitors combined. The local crowd began to get a little anxious as Peterson proved that local boy Doucette wouldn’t be handed the title without a fight.

Doucette finished second in the opening round of the Derby smacking three bombs to left. He seemed to struggle to find his rythm, but began to swing the bat better later in the round.

The batters would be allowed only five outs in the second round compared to 10 in the first. Peterson and Doucette were joined by Rob Harynuk of the Burnaby Bulldogs, Matt Beaudry of the Fort Saskatchewan A’s and Thomas Grubb of the Windsor Stars in the second round. They kept the totals from the first and tried to add to it for a chance to be in the final two.

Peterson hit a couple solid shots in the second round and was never in danger of not advancing thanks to his strong first round. Grubb made what looked to be a two-man race between Doucette and Peterson a bit more interesting, hitting four homers in the second round. Doucette was then forced to hit at least two to force a tie with Grubb. Doucette came through hitting four to advance.

As happens in many HR Derbies the participants reaching the final began to feel the effects of taking big cuts all night. Peterson opened the final round with two long drives to left. Doucette hit a couple of solid shots of his own to tie Peterson and have a chance to win it all. With a few outs remaining, he hit a screaming shot to left that just hooked foul, leaving the crowd leaning off the edge of their seats. It was only a couple of pitchers later that Doucette hit the third and decisive home run to top Peterson. That would be his final bomb, but it proved enough to walk away Home Run King.

The real winner in all of this was the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, who partnered with the Dartmouth Moosehead Dry to hold the event. You couldn’t look anywhere last night at Beazley Field without seeing the trademark pink on everything. There were numerous prizes and contest sponsored by Tim Hoton’s, Cleve’s Source for Sports, and Grandview Golf Club that helped raise money for breast cancer research.

The weather is a bit damp this morning, but games are underway as we speak. It is supposed to clear up for a good weekend, so get out there and watch some great baseball.

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