Peninsula Pilots catcher Alex Close blasted six home runs in the final round of the CPL Home Run Derby on Sunday at Big Rock Stadium, taking the victory in the contest over Asheboro's Austin Bossart.
Close needed only five home runs in his last at bat to win, and he was able to hit those five before even recording an out in the championship round. At the cheering request of the fans, he decided to stay out for a couple of more swings, and finished with six home runs.
Close made it to the final round of the contest by clubbing 12 home runs in the first two rounds combined, which put him atop the East's leaderboard over teammate Taylor Ostrich.
"I got tired in that second round and I didn't really know how many I needed to get to the final, but once I got there I knew exactly what I needed to do," Close said. "I was able to put some really nice swings on the ball. It was just a lot of fun, and Morehead City did a great job putting it on."
Morehead City Marlins' third baseman Johnny Caputo hit two home runs in his only round of the contest, both towering drives to left field.
"Playing in front of the fans was a great experience," Caputo said. "It was the first time I have ever been a part of something like that, and I got to experience it in front of Morehead City's great fans."
Orlando Olivera also hit two homers for the East, while Ostrich finished with 12 total bombs, including nine in an impressive first round.
In the West, Allen Staton of Columbia made it through to the final round, eventually falling to Bossart after hitting only two homers in round two. Hunter Bryant went deep twice on the night, and Chase Shelton did not hit a home run in his lone bat.
All eight Derby contestants will be representing their respective teams and leagues in the 16th Annual CPL All-Star Game, which will take place on Monday evening in Morehead City.
The Coastal Plain League is the nation's hottest summer collegiate baseball league. Celebrating its 18th season in 2014, the CPL features 14 teams playing North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. The CPL gives college players the chance to refine their skills with the use of wooden bats. Players are housed with local host families for the summer and past experiences have been very positive for both players and hosts.