08/02/2011 7:46 AM
BOSTON, Mass.--On a humid drizzly night, Chatham’s sophomore first baseman Richie Shaffer (Clemson) used the Green Monster to his advantage to win the Cape Cod League’s Home Run Hitting Contest. The slugging righty capitalized on his second chance to grab a home run hitting title as he also participated in the TD Ameritrade Home Run Derby in Omaha, Nebraska. Shaffer blasted all six of his homers over the monster to beat out Harwich’s Austin Wilson (Stanford), Brewster’s Tanner Nivins (Stony Brook), Cotuit’s Victor Roache (Georgia Southern), Hyannis’ Adam Walker (Jacksonville), and Warham’s Daniel Palka, (Georgia Tech).
This year’s competition was reduced to just one round and each batter received 8 outs to hit as many home runs as possible. Because of the Green Monster, right-handed hitters usually have the advantage in the derby, and all participants except Palka had this benefit.
Shaffer started off slowly with five quick outs, but once comfortable, he easily launched balls over the monster. “I was over swinging a little bit and I was a little tense and nervous, but once I got the first one out I kind of relaxed and got into a groove,” said Shaffer. His momentum continued to increase with every home run, as each shot went higher and further. After his first three home runs landed in the monster seats, it was his fourth that left the crowd in awe as he hit the ball half way up the left light tower. On his last home run, Shaffer cleared everything, crushing the ball over the “Sports Authority” sign.
Shaffer appreciated the opportunity to hit home runs in one of the most historic ballparks in America. “ It was pretty awesome, Fenway is one of those iconic parks that I dreamed to play in as a kid. To get the chance to hit there it was amazing and it was something that I have dreamed about for a long time”.
One of the more anticipated participants of the derby was Roache, who finished runner-up in the TD Ameritrade Home Run Derby in Omaha and who was chasing after the first-ever Triple Crown in Cape League’s modern era through most of the 2011 season. The large slugging outfielder is currently second in RBI (28), second in home runs (6), and was third in batting average (.328) as of the All Star Game. He also had an impressive moon shot, clearing everything over the monster as well. Unfortunately, Roache came up short, and only had a total of two home runs.
Palka faced a disadvantage in the contest as a left-handed hitter. Although Pesky’s pole is 329 feet, the right field fence continues straight back to the bullpens where it is 380 feet. However, Palka was up to the challenge and he did not disappoint. His first home run landed in the first few rows behind the Red Sox bullpen, which is about 400 feet. Palka’s Western Division teammates jumped and yelled in excitement. His next blast perched into the visitor’s bullpen, and his final home run again cleared the bullpens. Although he lost, Palka made a heartened and loud effort.
As for the other three, Walker, Wilson, and Nivins ended the competition with three, one, and zero home runs, respectively.