New Delhi [India], December 3 (ANI): The first day of the finals of MLB Cup 2022 being held in Delhi-NCR at the Noida Cricket Stadium came to a close with a bang, as the Home Run Derby got everyone involved in the competition.
One player was selected from each team to participate in the Home Run Derby. The 16 teams that had made the trip to Delhi-NCR to take part in the final were divided into two pools, National League and American League.
The hitter with the highest total number of home runs from each pool advanced to the final round of the competition. Each hitter was given 45 seconds to hit as many home runs as possible. The ball was tossed up to the hitters by an MLB India On Track Coach Saurabh Sharma standing behind a protective screen from 15 feet away, as per a press release from MLB Cup India.
MLB Spokespersons Ryo Takahashi, Business Development Manager, MLB India; David Palese, Baseball Development Manager, MLB India and Rick Dell, General Manager of Baseball Development were present at the event to take in the electric atmosphere and skill of the young athletes that were participating.
Before the first pitch of the Home Run Derby was pitched Ryo Takahashi spoke about the attitude of the young competitors, "I think their smiles say it all. The moment the kids walked in; their eyes lit up. Throughout the day we heard kids supporting their teammates and that's what it's about. At the end of the day the kids are having fun and they're playing baseball, there's nothing more we can ask for."
David Palese mirrored the sentiment adding, "You can tell there was a ton of excitement and the kids were really anxious to play. Coming out of the regionals and then having made the trip here to Delhi and playing in the stadium, you could just see it in their eyes right from the beginning since 6.30 O'clock this morning. They were really anxious to warm up and you could see the glow on their faces and the excitement in their eyes, so it was really cool."
Rick Dell, who was also present at the previous edition of the MLB Cup that was held last year said, "I was fortunate enough to be here last year for the inaugural edition of the MLB Cup and the level of play in the entire tournament that I've seen on the first day, is well above what I witnessed last year."
He went on to add, "The atmosphere in the Stadium from start to finish was electric. Not only were the hitters and the participants excited about it, but all the kids in the stadium were on their feet, cheering and pushing their teammates to do better."
The Home Run Derby was won by Darsh Belsare of the Indore Padres who hit 8 home runs in the final round of the competition to beat Shobit Pani of the Bangalore Rays in a nail-biting and highly entertaining final. Darsh was presented with an official MLB match-size slugger by Rick Dell for his win.
Ryo Takahashi spoke about the elite skill he witnessed in the Home Run Derby saying, "I was impressed. We played in a smaller field and saw some home runs, but not as majestic and as much as we saw today. It is proof that there is a lot of talent here in India waiting to be unearthed."
David Palese who has been to every regional round and has built strong bonds with a lot of the young competitors said, "I had seen these kids and we actually moved the fence back and made it deeper because we were expecting a lot of home runs. So, I think the one thing that did surprise me was some of our little guys who hit a lot of home runs, they properly packed a punch. It shows that it's not just the biggest guy who can hit home runs. You know all the kids out there hit a couple today so it was very cool."
Rick Dell further added to what David Palese said explaining the kind of potential India has for baseball, "The difference between this year and last year is there's a large margin of difference in the quality of the play, not only in the enthusiasm of the players, but you know you're starting to see these young athletes are understanding baseball, they're understanding the environment that they have to perform in. It IS very cool to see them progress so much in just a year."
The finals of MLB Cup 2022 will conclude on the 4th of December, capping an overall successful tournament. (ANI)