BRISTOL - Jayson Gonzalez wasnâ€™t supposed to be in the FCBLâ€™s Home Run Derby - in fact, he was a late fill in. But that did not stop the Bristol Blues infielder from impressing both the hometown crowd and the competition.
Although the Vanderbilt University product had just two home runs on the season entering the Derby, Gonzalez had no problem hitting the ball out Tuesday night, making easy work of his competition, beating defending champion Don Walsh of the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs 15-6 in the final.
â€śIt was a lot of fun,â€ť said Gonzalez, who replaced Alex Brickman of the North Shore Navigators. â€śDefinitely a lot of adrenaline pumping through my body, but it was a lot of fun watching those balls go out.â€ť
Gonzalez swung and watched as some of his home runs bounced off the trees in left-center field, cleared the scoreboard in left and even the fence in straight-away center as he looked the most consistent of the hitters on the night.
The Covina, Calif., native hit 12 home runs in the first round, second only to Walshâ€™s 15. But unlike Walsh, who ran out of steam in the final round, Gonzalez came out strong in Round 2.
If anything, he entered the final knowing he could compete with Walsh.
â€śThe second round, I tried to relax a little more,â€ť Gonzalez said. â€śI had a little bit of confidence. I knew he was a big guy. His first round was really impressive.
â€śSo after I hit those first two [home runs], I just tried to relax as much as possible, have some fun and just tried to square the ball up.â€ť
The Dirt Dawgsâ€™ Zack Tower got the derby started with 11 home runs right out of the gate, but Walshâ€™s first round eliminated him from the field.
He was followed by Joe Caico of the Worcester Bravehearts, who hit six.
After Gonzalez went third, Blues teammate and Newington native Ben Maycock went fourth. But in his three-minute round, Maycock hit six, three of which came after he had to replace a broken bat, setting the stage for a Gonzalez-Walsh final.
But as a player that initially was not supposed to be there, there was little pressure on the Gonzalez. And getting the win in the stadium where he plays his home games - that just made the win a little bit sweeter.
â€śI was a little nervous, but doing it for Bristol was a lot of fun,â€ť Gonzalez said.