X

2015 College Baseball Home Run Derby: Winner, Twitter Reaction and Highlights

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistJuly 3, 2015

Creighton hosts Nebraska in an NCAA college baseball game in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, April 19, 2011, at the new home of the College World Series, T.D. Ameritrade Park. The 24,000-seat stadium, which was built specifically to host the Division I baseball championship, replaces Rosenblatt Stadium, which had hosted the CWS every year since 1950. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Nati Harnik/Associated Press

Despite an impressive late charge from Wake Forest's Will Craig, North Dakota's Jeff Campbell staved off the ACC Player of the Year to capture the 2015 College Baseball Home Run Derby crown.  

Thanks to a record-setting first-round showing that saw Campbell jack 20 home runs, he was able to put things on cruise control in Round 2 before gearing up for a heavy-hitting showdown with Craig in the final frame.  

2015 College Baseball Home Run Derby Results
PlayerSchoolRound 1 HRRound 2 HRRound 1 and 2 TotalFinal Round HRs
Jeff CampbellNorth Dakota2042410
Will CraigWake Forest916255
Kel JohnsonGeorgia Tech17623Eliminated
Eric GutierrezTexas Tech9817Eliminated
Colton ShaverBYU7Eliminated7Eliminated
Zack CollinsMiami7Eliminated7Eliminated
Joe DunandNC State6Eliminated6Eliminated
Kyle LewisMercer4Eliminated4Eliminated
Source: ESPN

Campbell, a right-handed pitcher and infielder, became the first senior in contest history to take home the title. 

Home Run Derby @CollegeHRDerby

And there we have it!! CONGRATULATIONS @UND_Baseball 's @catfishy21 on being the 2015 #CollegeHRDerby Champion!

After starting things off as the first batter of the evening, Craig had two hours to rest between his first- and second-round at-bats. And while he trailed Georgia Tech's Kel Johnson by 14 home runs entering the decisive at-bat, he wasn't affected by fatigue like some of his competitors—at least for one round.  

With a shot in the finale on the line, Craig bolstered his cumulative first- and second-round total to a monster 25 home runs—and he did so with two outs to spare.

Throughout his jaw-dropping Round 2, Craig proved he could punch the ball with power to either side. Not only did Craig scorch line drives into the stands, but he also cranked picturesque shots to center field and all the way back toward the facing of a concession stand in deep left. 

However, Craig couldn't sustain that success in the finals, when Campbell proved to be far more rested after batting first in the second round. Campbell, who obliterated baseballs from start to finish, capped off a season that saw him bat for the cycle back on May 16 against New Mexico State by achieving long ball. 

As expected, big bats from the ACC started things off with a bang in Omaha, Nebraska. 

Craig bashed eight home runs by the time he had five outs in Round 1, and he even launched one as far as 470 feet with a blast to center. 

However, it was Johnson who went simply ballistic after Craig recorded nine dingers to start the festivities. Johnson matched Craig's first-round total all before recording his third out, including a 505-foot tape-measure shot that sent the Omaha crowd into a frenzy. 

As Bleacher Report's David Kenyon observed, Johnson's balance at the plate made his cuts the most aesthetically pleasing of the night: 

David Kenyon @Kenyon19_BR

Kel Johnson's swing is just silky.

Johnson capped off his first round with 17 home runs after crunching the Quicken Loans moneyball (worth two points) that was allotted to hitters after they recorded their 10th out. The 17 long-balls temporarily represented a first-round record before Campbell took center stage, as the Yellow Jacket outfielder and first baseman repeatedly peppered the left field stands.  

Simit Shah @simit_shah

WOW! #HeKELdit #CollegeHRDerby http://t.co/HMjpaTOwTt

Records continued to fall throughout the competition's opening stanza, according to the event's official Twitter account: 

Home Run Derby @CollegeHRDerby

We've already set a first round record for HRs - 59! Previous was 48 in 2014

2014 runner-up Eric Gutierrez narrowly escaped the first round by smashing nine homers, three of which came after he had nine outs on the board. 

"You want to win, but you want to have some fun," Gutierrez said prior to Thursday night's contest, according to the World-Herald's Gene Schinzel. "I’m not stressed about anything, just want to go out there and bomb.”

Sluggers Joe Dunand (N.C. State) and Zack Collins (Miami) didn't put forth equally impressive showings in Round 1. Dunand and Collins ripped six and seven home runs, respectively, as consistency proved to be elusive.

But as Schinzel noted, those scores wouldn't have looked so underwhelming during the 2014 competition: 

Gene Schinzel @geneOWH

Dunand sits in fourth place through four competitors. In last year's first round, only two batters hit more than 5 homers.

Dunand was eliminated after Campbell stepped to the plate and put on a show immediately following the freshman's performance. Mercer's Kyle Lewis experienced a similar fate after hitting just four home runs as the sixth man up.  

The ACC nearly dominated the evening, but it was Campbell who ultimately stole the show and bucked trends.

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.