Family night of fun

Published 11:38 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2009

There were 128 total home runs hit in Riddle-Pace Field Tuesday night during the Sun Belt Baseball Championship Family Night.

After conference officials handed out the Sun Belt yearly awards, hometown Troy’s Michael Precise and seven other representatives of the Sun Belt began losing balls over the wall. Family Night went off without a hitch and Troy head coach Bobby Pierce would not have had it any other way.

“It has been a tremendous success and we have a great crowd,” Troy head coach Bobby Pierce said. “There is a lot of noise and it was great for the Sun Belt players to receive their recognition for their performance during the season in front of a nice crowd.”

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Pierce said the home run derby was a fan pleaser.

“The home run derby has been a hit with guys just blasting balls over the light poles and having the Dixie Youth kids here brought a lot of energy to the night,” Pierce said. “I think it has been a great night for Troy and a great night for the Sun Belt.”

One of those players nearly hitting the light poles was Sun Belt Home Run Derby champion Chad Cregar from Western Kentucky. Cregar blasted his way to the title with 10 home runs in the first round and 11 in the second round.

Troy senior Michael Precise tied Cregar in the first round with 10 bombs of his own, but failed to lose one over the fence in the second round to finish in third behind Cregar and Louisiana-Monroe’s Matt Laird who hit nine in the first round and two in the second.

In the first round, Precise had six home runs with one out to go and he lost four balls over the fence to grab a share of the lead.

“In the home run derby you just have to find your groove,” Precise said. “It took me a while to find it and I finally found it, it started feeling good and I was able to get into a couple. I really appreciate being able to represent (Troy) and this is about as fun as you can get.”

In the Dixie Youth division Troy native Austin Ingram took home the derby crown with 21 home runs of his own.

Ingram led the way in the first round with eight long balls, but left the rest of the pack in the dust with 13 shots in the second round.

“It feels great and this is a once in a lifetime chance,” Ingram said.

Chris Simmon from Enterprise finished in second with eight combined home runs and Dothan Southern’s Trey Truitt knocked a combined seven out for third place.

“We appreciate everyone coming out and we look forward to seeing them throughout the week during the tournament,” Pierce said. “I would just like to thank Dixie Youth for participating in this night and making it a special night.”