and a drive, to deep right field! Bay’s Matt Francati knocks
out a dinger in the second annual SportsTime Ohio Home Run Derby
at Jacobs Field. (West Life photos by Larry Bennet)
has fun at Jacobs Field
By Matt Pawlikowski
Published June 27, 2007
it came down to who was the best hitter at the second annual Sport
Time Ohio Home Run Derby at Jacobs Field last week, Cuyahoga County
was bested, as two of Medina County’s best, Medina Highland senior
Ben Klafczynski and Medina junior Ron Stout, were the best of the
Still, for one local standout, Matt Francati of Bay
Village, the event couldn’t have been a more memorable experience.
“It was great,” Francati said after his final round,
where he hit his only dinger of the day. “I got one, and hopefully
next year, I’ll get to get more than one.”
Matt Francati takes in the surreal atmosphere of playing in
a big league stadium.
Admittedly, Francati said he was a little nervous
in the major league atmosphere. Players not only batted on the field,
but also used the Indians dugout.
“I thought I’d just line them out of here,” he said
with a huge smile. “But it got to you mentally. I didn’t think the
field would be this nice either.”
The field of 10 players included Villa Angela-St.
Joseph senior Robert Maddox, who was drafted by the Atlanta Braves
along with a number of other players who will be playing NCAA Division
“I found out three weeks ago that I would be in the
field,” said Francati. “I was happy and excited, knowing I would
be going against others who were going to college on scholarship,
and some who will play major league baseball someday.”
Criteria for selecting players for the derby were
based on input from other coaches, along with regular-season statistics.
Although just a junior, Francati’s were impressive.
On the year for Bay he batted a stellar .485, clocked seven homers
and had a school record 42 RBIs. He also set a new school record
for most hits in a season with 47.
What’s interesting though, is the fact Francati is
even better as a pitcher. In 42.2 innings, he posted a 2.46 earned
run average, and had 49 strikeouts, to go with his three wins.
“I’m better as a pitcher,” he said with a laugh. “But
I was hoping I’d make it here. I have a tournament at Eastern Michigan
University today, so I’m missing my first game, but this is worth
Francati credited his coach Joe Cheney, who also pitched
to him during the Derby, for his success on the field.
“He’s been with me for three years,” said Francati.
“He’s helped me a lot and brought my game along and has told me
I could always play.”
One of the more impressive shots of the day occurred
in the second round of finals, when Hoban’s Conner Burns stepped
to the plate. With a loud “ping” of his bat, a sound that echoed
throughout Jacobs Field, he clobbered a Jim Thome-like ball 430
feet into the leftfield bleachers. It proved to be the longest shot
of the day.
A spokesperson for SportsTime Ohio said no time has
been slotted yet for the tourney to be aired, but they expect it
to be televised sometime in August.
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