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Thursday, 11 July 2019 20:45

Baucom wins CPL Home Run Derby, participates in All-Star Showdown

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Ethan Baucom connects on a ball during the CPL Home Run Derby. Ethan Baucom connects on a ball during the CPL Home Run Derby. Malcolm Tully, Savannah Bananas photographer.

SAVANNAH, Ga. — Ethan Baucom made a name for himself this spring by finishing fifth in Division II baseball with 20 home runs, while also leading his UNC-Pembroke team. And he used those talents to put on a show at the 2019 Coastal Plain League All-Star Showdown earlier this week.

Baucom, who is a rising senior with the Braves, has spent the last six weeks playing for the Savannah Bananas of the CPL, a summer prospect league. The All-Star Showdown was hosted by Savannah at Historic Grayson Stadium, and Baucom was selected to represent the home team in the Home Run Derby.

Not only did he blast 20 homers in three rounds, but the Rockingham native took home the HRD crown, defeating Bananas teammate Gabe Howell (Bryan College). 

“I was selected because I won the first home run derby of the year at the fanfest,” Baucom explained of the pre-season contest. “Going into the All-Star Derby, I just wanted to have fun. But I knew when I stepped on the field, my competitive edge would take over and I’d want to win.

“I’m used to playing in front of 5,000 fans every night, and it was just as packed for the Derby,” he continued. “Playing at home gave me an advantage and hitting that many homers was awesome and I loved how everyone was cheering for me. I think I gave the fans what they wanted.”

The CPL’s Home Run Derby format was a little different than the traditional layout, as it used six contestants, one from each of the six All-Star teams competing in the All-Star Showdown. Joining Baucom (Hometown Savannah) were Howell (South All-Stars), Chris Crabtree (East All-Stars), Kendall McGowan (West All-Stars), Tyler Riebock (North All-Stars) and Myles Christian (Fan Vote All-Stars).

To add more fun for the contestants and fans, the players had two minutes per round and hit home runs from four different spots around the field. They began in shallow center field by tossing a ball to themselves, before moving to second base where they hit off a tee.

Following that, the batters raced to the mound where a coach would soft toss a ball to them. The final station was in the batter’s box, and the derby followed a normal format with regular pitches. In order to advance to the next station, players were required to hit a home run at the previous station. 

Baucom kicked off his opening round with seven home runs, and Howell finished second with four of his own. That put them in the championship round, and the pair of Bananas teammates each cranked seven bombs apiece to force a tiebreaker.

In the playoff round, Baucom muscled six more homers to Howell’s three, earning him and the Bananas the No. 1 overall seed in the All-Star Showdown tournament.

“It was a really good experience meeting the other players around the league,” Baucom shared. “There are a lot of big Division I guys there and it was a good time. I’m really honored to have been able to be a part of it.

“The best part was the break and getting to sit back and chill out a little bit,” he laughed. “We’ve been playing every day this summer so it was good to hang out by the pool.”

The All-Star Showdown was a tournament style event, seeing the six teams compete in three-inning games. With Baucom’s HRD win, the Hometown Savannah team bypassed the quarterfinals, but lost to the Fan Vote All-Stars 4-0. The East All-Stars would top the Fan Vote All-Stars 2-1 in the title game.

Baucom started in right field for his ball club and batted fifth. Through 28 games played this summer, the former Raider baseball player is batting .235 with 23 hits and 12 RBIs. 

“If anyone gets the chance to play for Bananas they need to jump in on it,” Baucom closed. “It’s been such a fun summer.”

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Kyle Pillar

Sports Editor. IUP communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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