VBL Announces 2019 Schedule
Date: Feb 18, 2019
Photo Credit: Michael Terndrup
BY JULIA STUMBAUGH
When the hardest hitters in the VBL all line up to take turns at bat, you’re sure to see more than a few balls land in the grass outside of JMU’s Eagle Field. And that’s exactly what the crowd watched as Andrew Burden (Front Royal), Andrew Eyster (New Market), Adan Fernandez (New Market), JD Mundy (Covington), Anthony Pecora (Strasburg), Samyr Santos (Winchester), Troy Weatherly (Purcellville) and Brett Willett (Staunton) stepped up to the plate in Harrisonburg to challenge for the title of 2018 Home Run Derby champion. These eight star batters were given 10 outs to try and rack up as many homers as they could through three rounds, with the top three totals advancing to the second phase and the top two heading on to the finals. Mundy entered the showdown as the VBL leader in home runs with 12 so far on the summer, but it was the Cardinals’ Burden that would come away with the victory on Sunday as he worked the fence by the right field scoreboard to sink in six homers.
Only one batter was held without a home run in the opening round, as what momentarily appeared to be a no-doubter from Fernandez dipped just short of the left field fence to a collective groan from the crowd. Mundy, Santos and Willett racked up a homer each. Eyster and Weatherly tied for third place in the opening round with two apiece, trailing Pecora, who sunk in three over his sweet spot on the left field fence. But the first round belonged to Burden, who opened the competition and would, in the end, close it out. He started his at-bat with a homer to the left of the scoreboard and knocked four more around either side of the board to take an early lead with five home runs.
Eyster, Weatherly, Pecora and Burden advanced to the second round, where Eyster opened with an early homer to right field that he immediately repeated, bringing his score to four. Weatherly added one to his total on his final out after banging a few into the wall, while Pecora couldn’t power one over the fence. Those scores automatically qualified Burden, sending the competition into its championship round with Burden and Eyster facing off for the title.
In the final, Eyster connected for a few strong hits but couldn’t send any home. That left the competition to Burden, who saw one ball fall just short of the scoreboard before squaring up and cracking his next hit to the exact same spot, this time clearing the wall and earning him a walk-off win of the 2018 VBL Home Run Derby.
The hitters will now join their respective division teams for Sunday night’s All-Star Game as the VBL North takes on the South Division.
2018 HOME RUN DERBY TOTALS:
Eyster: 2 (total- 4)
Weatherly: 1 (total- 3)
Pecora: 0 (total- 3)
Eyster: 0 (total- 4)
Burden: 1 (total- 6)