Minutes after the Akron Aeros left the Canal Park field Tuesday night it was the high school batters time to take their chops in the finale of the High School Home Run Derby.
Three contestants – Tallmadge’s Paul Pakan, Walsh Jesuit’s Matt Keller and Firestone’s Justin McDowell – hit balls deep. They hit balls far.
Just not far enough.
No actual home runs were hit in the finale of the home run derby, but Pakan had the closest, a warning track shot to left center field, to clinch this year’s title.
``It’s hard,’’ Pakan said. ``I should have done it, but I tried to hard and pulled off pitches… It’s a lot different because you think about (competing in a derby) more and you try to hit a home run. It doesn't come naturally with your swing.’’
The derby used a point system that awarded homeruns, wall balls and warning track shots.
Pakan, who led off the event, found himself waiting through the two other competitors to see if his gap show would stand as the winner.
The left-handed hitting Keller had plenty of distance on numerous shots, but just couldn’t seem to keep the ball in fair territory, peppering the seats near the right field foul pole.
McDowell, who also hit left-handed, kept the ball in play for the most part, but sent his most convincing shots to the deepest parts of Canal Park.