The festivities for the 19th annual Tarboro Easter Classic kicked off Tuesday at historical Municipal Stadium in Tarboro with a pig pickin and the annual home run derby with over 300 people in attendance.
Jefferson Forest Cavaliers Greg Brownson came through at the right times and prevailed to be crowned the home run derby champion over the Winslow Township Eagles Jonathan Gonzalez. He hit 10 home runs total in the derby, but didn't hit a homer in the championship playoff round when it mattered most. Brownson hit one in the playoff round to win.
The format for the home run derby didn't work out as planned. There were 14 players in the derby with two players from each team hitting except for the Lawrence Academy Warriors, because they had a game and couldn't make it in time. Each player got ten outs. The outs are recorded when the player swings at the pitch, but doesn't hit a home run. The top four hitters with two or more home runs were to advance to the second round and then the two players with the most home runs in the second round were to hit in the finals for the derby crown. It didn't work that way though, because only Gonzalez hit more than two home runs in the first round. He stroked four. There were five players with one home run apiece after the first round. Bunn Wildcats Kelton Pearce, Padua Bruins Kyle Ward and CJ Yonek, Tarboro Vikings Drurry Armstrong, and Brownson each had a home run in the first round. So they had to have a playoff to see who could advance to the second round with Gonzalez.
In the playoff round, Brownson hit one home run and Armstrong hit six to advance to advance to the second round with Gonzalez.
In the second round the top two players with the most home runs were to advance to the championship round. Gonzalez came on strong again in the second round and belted five home runs, which put the pressure on Armstrong and Brownson. Armstrong then belted a home run to put even more pressure on Brownson. But Brownson came through and hit two homers to put him in the championship against Gonzalez.
In the championship round, both players hit a homer apiece. That forced the second playoff round of the derby. Gonzalez hit several balls off the fence, but just couldn't get enough lift on the ball to get it over. Brownson came to the plate and hit the home run that mattered most in the derby on his fourth pitch in the round to take the annual home run derby crown.
"It is crazy to know I won the home run derby," Brownson said. "I was trying to stay loose and hit the ball hard."
Brownson continued on to say that he is hoping his team came come into the tournament and win the championship. He said that is what they came to play for is the championship.
The other players that participated in the home run derby that didn't hit a home run were, St. Maria Goretti Gaels Taylor Litzinger and Ian Moss, Tarboro Vikings Austin Holland, Bunn Wildcats Forest Maynard, Winslow Township Eagles Guilford Masionet and SouthWest Edgecombe Cougars Philip Webb and Damien Bryant.
The home run derby is sponsored by Edgecombe County Farm Bureau Insurance that is located in Tarboro. Agents Don Clark and Ken Lewis presented the trophies to the champion and runner-up.
The home run derby is just the beginning of fun four day tournament that takes place a beautiful historical Municipal Stadium in Tarboro.
The Tarboro easter Classic began in 1994 when the Vikings baseball program put together a fundraiser tournament to raise money for the team. Since then it has taken off and become one of the best high school baseball tournaments in the state of North Carolina.
The tournament game will begin today and be played through Friday. Tickets for each day are $7 for adults and $5 for school aged kids. Tournament passes are also available which cost $18 for a three day pass for adults and $12 for kids.
The tournament games begin at 11 a.m. today. The following is the scheduled games for today.
Game 1 11:00 Padua Bruins vs Bunn Wildcats
Game 2 1:30 Jefferson Forest Cavaliers vs Lawrence Academy Warriors
Game 3 4:00 Winslow Township Eagles vs SouthWest Edgecombe Cougars
Game 4 7:00 St. Maria Goretti Gaels vs Tarboro Vikings