OMAHA, Nebraska -- Slow and steady still wins the race, even in home run derbies.
Reno slugger Peter O'Brien delighted the crowd of 7,011 at Werner Park on Monday in Round 1 of the Triple-A Home Run Derby with 13 blasts in the most productive round of the night, but Norfolk outfielder Dariel Alvarez came back strong, delivering 15 over the first two rounds to earn the right to battle O'Brien in the final.
Alvarez went first and smacked six long balls. Arizona's No. 7 prospect O'Brien followed with five, but came up short on his last four swings.
"I was working hard in every round," Alvarez said through an interpreter. "I didn't think about what I had to do [to catch O'Brien]. I was just trying to go to home plate and hit the ball as far as I could. I feel blessed to win the championship."
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Alvarez's International League All-Star teammates had fun at O'Brien's expense while he was up at the plate. During a pitch that O'Brien took, the IL All-Stars pretended to appeal to a first-base umpire to say O'Brien offered at it.
O'Brien played along, stepping out of the box and giving the safe signal.
"Everybody was working like a team," Alvarez said. "Everybody was supporting me. I feel really good. I feel excited to be the champion."
Reno third baseman Jamie Romak had an impressive second round, launching 10, but he only had three in the first round and didn't qualify for the final.
No. 13 Indians prospect Jesus Aguilar of Columbus and No. 9 White Sox prospect Matt Davidson of Charlotte hit nine home runs apiece over two rounds -- as did Omaha prep slugger Alex Bohm, one of two high schoolers included in the competition. Fellow senior Jack Kalina belted three.
El Paso infielder Cody Decker hung a zero in the first round, but he came back strong with six in the second round.
Bohm and Kalina admitted to being nervous when they stepped up to the plate, and neither of them had ever played in front of such a large crowd. The duo competed against other area high school seniors earlier this season for the chance to tee off against some of Triple-A's finest.
"It was really cool to be around them to see what they do," Bohm said. "This is their life. This is what they do every day."
Bohm is headed to Wichita State next season, and Kalina will play for the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
"It was a crazy experience," Kalina said. "It was everything I ever dreamed of, really. You see them on TV and you'll know they'll be up in the big leagues some day. I'll remember this for the rest of my life."
Final Home Run Totals
Dariel Alvarez (Norfolk) -- 21
Peter O'Brien (Reno) -- 20
Jamie Romak (Reno) -- 13
Jesus Aguilar (Columbus) -- 9
Matt Davidson (Charlotte) -- 9
Alex Bohm (Omaha Roncalli) -- 9
Cody Decker (El Paso) -- 6
Jack Kalina (Papillion-La Vista) -- 3