First Posted: 1/15/2009
Willis Jacobson, Staff writer
FAYETTEVILLE - It may have taken a while, but Jason Morales has found his home-run stroke.
Just two days after hitting his first homer of the season, the Fayetteville SwampDog and The University of North Carolina at Pembroke Brave hit 17 longballs to win the Coastal Plain League's Home Run Derby on Monday night.
“I guess when good things happen, it just keeps rolling,” Morales said.
On Saturday, Morales hit a walk-off 11th inning bomb to give the SwampDogs a 7-6 win over New Bern, his first round-tripper of the season.
“I don't even have words to explain it,” he said of the sudden power surge. “It's just crazy.”
After hitting five home runs in each of the first two rounds, Morales matched Martinsville's Matt Leake with six bombs in the championship round to force an extra playoff session. With just three outs in the playoff - as opposed to eight in the earlier rounds - Leake ran out of gas and came up empty. Needing just one to win, Morales connected on his first swing, sending a line drive over the left field fence to capture the title.
Morales, who hit eight home runs last season at UNCP, said the impressive performance was mostly thanks to SwampDogs assistant coach Jeff Cammann, who worked as his pitcher.
“Cam was putting them right there,” he said. “He was doing all the work. I just had to keep swinging. He was putting them right in my spot.”
While the rest of the field became noticeably worn down as the rounds went on, Morales said the partisan Fayetteville audience worked to his advantage.
“The crowd picked me up (in the later rounds),” Morales said. “Hearing them cheer for me, and with us hosting this All-Star Game, I wasn't about to get fatigued.”