Local players to compete in Atlantic League All-Star Home Run Derby

Posted by on July 11, 2011 in 2011 All-Star Game

York Suburban grad Matt Petersen swings for the fences during a family home run derby game at his aunts house in Manchester Township Sunday, July 3, 2011. The family has been playing a Fourth of July game for close to twenty years. Matt will take part in the Atlantic League All-Star Game Home Run Derby contest at Sovereign Bank Stadium Wednesday, July 13. Randy Flaum photo

Gripping an aluminum bat in his hands, Matt Petersen stepped to the plate with a big challenge.

Petersen needed 10 home runs to have a chance at taking home the coveted Petersen family Home Run Derby trophy.

The 19-year-old Petersen, though, would only go on to hit four homers, marking another year in which he has yet to win the derby.

Every Fourth of July weekend, Petersen’s family gathers at his aunt’s home in Manchester Township and holds an annual Home Run Derby.

It started as just a fun Fourth of July activity. But it has now grown so popular with the family that they hold the derby every year, usually in the aunt’s backyard, using an aluminum bat and a tennis ball. Anyone in the family can participate, from children to grandparents.

“We’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember. Probably since I was like 4 or 5 (years old),” Petersen said.

The winner takes home a small trophy. Petersen, who starred for the York Suburban baseball team this past spring, has yet to win the derby, though.

“We use a tennis ball. You have to hit it softer for it to go farther,” Petersen said. “It’s completely opposite of using a baseball.”

Though he finished in the middle of the pack of the 15 or so people who participated in his family’s derby on July 3, Petersen will soon get a chance to win a different derby: the Atlantic League All-Star Home Run Derby.

Petersen will be one of six local high school players participating in the derby, which will be held Wednesday at Sovereign Bank Stadium, just hours before the 2011 Atlantic League All-Star Game. Each high school athlete recently graduated from their respective high schools.

The derby will feature six teams, each consisting of an Atlantic League player, a local high school player and a player from the Susquehanna or Central baseball leagues. High school players will use aluminum bats, while Atlantic League and adult league players will use wooden bats.

Each team will be playing for a designated charity of their choice, with the winning team getting a monetary prize from the Revolution that will go to the charity. And the high school player on that winning team will receive a savings bond for college.

Along with Petersen, the remaining high school players that will participate in the derby include York Suburban grad Zeke Ottemiller, New Oxford grad Anthony Goldhammer, Spring Grove grad Luke Rohrbaugh, York Catholic grad Alex Tucci and Dallastown grad Ryan Leader.

Representing the Susquehanna and Central leagues in the derby will be Rick Thompson (Windsor), Nate Neumann (Windsor), Jason Seitz (Hallam), Eric McNeil (Red Lion), Austin Rickrode (Dover) and Todd Meyer (Pleasureville).

The Atlantic League All-Stars participating in the derby will include Ben Harrison (Southern Maryland), Matt Esquivel (Long Island), Wes Bankston (Bridgeport), Val Majewski (York), Tommy Everidge (Lancaster) and Josh Pressley (Somerset).

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