Two Big 12 sluggers from the state of Texas, two former high-school teammates and two record-setting performances.
Texas Tech's Eric Gutierrez slugged 35 home runs through the first two rounds of the 2014 College Baseball Home Run Derby, but Texas freshman catcher Tres Barrera responded with a video game-esque 25 bombs in the finals to capture the home run crown from his long-time buddy.
128 HRs this year! More than doubled last year's total. #CollegeHRDerby— TD Ameritrade News (@TDAmeritradePR) July 4, 2014
Here's a look at the complete results:
|Hitter||College||First Round||Second Round (Total)||Final|
|Tres Barrera||Texas||11||5 (16)||25|
|Eric Gutierrez||Texas Tech||15||19 (34)||18|
|Matt Dacey||Richmond||5||9 (14)|
|Zach Ratliff||Ohio State||5||4 (9)|
|Sikes Orvis||Ole Miss||4|
The first round, much like the entire competition, belonged to Gutierrez and Barrera, who were busy taking selfies before the event started:
Gutierrez, who led the Big 12 with 12 home runs and slugged .530 this season, got the party started with 15 bombs. He wasn't just barely eclipsing the wall, either. Ten of his blasts went over 400 feet, while his longest traveled 424. According to Texas Tech Associate Director of Athletics Communications Scott Lacefield, his first-round tally set a Derby record:
Afterwards, he was understandably feeling confident:
"I was seeing the ball like it was a watermelon."- @Eric2824 said about his first home run derby experience.— Joshua Koch (@jokoch09) July 4, 2014
Barrera wasn't about to let his childhood friend and fellow Sharyland High School grad have the entire spotlight, though. The youngster responded with 11 home runs, putting him safely through to the semifinals, along with Ohio State's Zach Ratliff and Richmond's Matt Dacey, who each had five.
Once again, though, it was Gutierrez who put on a show.
He smashed an astounding 19 more home runs in the second round, pushing his running total to an unbelievable 35. Unsurprisingly, he again entered the record books:
Eric Gutierrez has made @CollegeHRDerby history - 34 total HR (15 in 1st round, 19 in 2nd round) most most in the 5-year event history— Scott Lacefield (@ScottLacefield) July 4, 2014
KLBK-TV's Matt Roberts put some perspective on the Herculean effort:
Gutierrez, by himself, has more home runs in the 1st 2 rounds than they had in the Derby, TOTAL, in 2011— Matt Roberts (@MattRobertsKLBK) July 4, 2014
Barrera's route to the finals wasn't nearly as easy. He hit just five home runs (giving him 16 total), opening the door for Dacey. The Richmond sophomore third baseman was up to a total of 11 with just four outs on the board, and, after he launched a moonshot 480 feet, it looked like he was going to sneak past Barrera.
He eventually fizzled out, though, finishing with 14 and letting Barrera through to the finals.
And boy, did he ever take advantage of that second life.
Barrera got off to a red-hot start in the final round, then he was red-hot in the middle of the round and then he had a red-hot finish, crushing the two-homer money ball to cap off a show that had "oohs" and "aahs" ringing throughout TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha:
Unreal performance from Barrera. He hits 25 home runs in the finals. Incredible show from the freshman.— Texas Baseball (@Texas_Baseball) July 4, 2014
When it was all said and done, he had 25 dingers, several of which were well into the left field seats or even to deep straightaway center.
Gutierrez finished the scintillating back-and-forth show with "only" 18. While he will be disappointed in the second-place finish, he has no reason to hang his head. As TSRN's Cameron Brock noted, he set one final record on the night:
Eric Gutierrez blasts the money ball. His total will say 52. He blasted 51 out, No trophy, but a Home Run Derby record across all levels.— Cameron Brock (@camdbrock) July 4, 2014
It was an unreal show from the pair of friends. While one had to walk away with the title, both deserve credit for putting on a jaw-dropping performance.