EVERETT — Sean Dwyer came into the Northwest League’s Home Run Derby as the big underdog, considering the Tri-City Dust Devils outfielder had just one homer in 36 games.
But that didn’t prevent Dwyer from pulling off the upset.
Dwyer held off the Everett AquaSox’s Phillips Castillo and the Eugene Emeralds’ Hunter Renfroe in the final round to win Tuesday’s derby, which preceded the first annual Northwest League All-Star Game at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Dwyer’s two homers leading off the final round turned out to be enough, as Castillo managed just one and Renfroe was shut out. The players were allowed seven outs.
“No chance, none at all,” was what Dwyer told the crowd about what he though his chances were beforehand.
“This is one of the most exciting things (in my baseball career),” Dwyer added. “I was nervous out there.”
Although Dwyer had just one home run in 122 at bats coming in, he had the advantage of being a left-hander and therefore aiming at Everett Memorial Stadium’s short right-field porch. Right-handers Castillo and Renfroe had to get the ball further hitting toward left field. Dwyer, an 11th-round pick in this year’s draft by the Colorado Rockies, finished third out of nine batters in the first round with three homers, making him the last player to qualify for the final round.
Dwyer pocketed $500 for the victory, and he also earned $2,500 for the Everett Boys &Girls Club, which was his designated charity.
Castillo, the only participant who wasn’t an All-Star, added some dramatics to the proceedings. In the first round, he had just one homer in his first three outs when AquaSox teammate Bryan Brito delivered him a new bat. Castillo proceeded to hit three homers with the new bat to finish tied for the first-round lead with Renfroe with four.
“Yeah, it was a little heavy for me, so I changed my bat,” Castillo told the crowd. “I got a lighter bat.”
Castillo tried the same maneuver as the final batter in the final round, as Brito again brought out a new bat after Castillo had just one homer in four outs. But this time the new bat failed to produce any more homers, allowing Dwyer to hold on for his victory.
Everett’s other participant, Justin Seager, failed to hit any homers in the first round.