Jay Warford poses for a photo after winning the Corner Brook Barons' home run derby on Monday night at Jubilee Field. — Star photo by Chris Quigley
Ask Jay Warford if he’s a power hitter and he’s quick to say no.
“Not a chance,” he said. “I’ve got zero in the (senior baseball league), zero in any all-star tournaments since mosquito ... I definitely try to hit more for average.”
So he may have been the most surprised person at Jubilee Field on Monday night when he won the Corner Brook Barons’ home run derby contest to see who will represent the team at the 2014 Senior National derby on Wednesday night.
Warford slugged nine balls over the fence over two rounds — six better than second-place finisher Fred Prosper.
Prosper and Jeff Gillam were the leaders of the 14-man contest after the first round, with two homers apiece before 10 outs were recorded. Warford, Darren Colbourne, Greg Sharpe and Grant Vincent all had one, so all six players advanced to the second and final round, which was reduced to seven outs.
Then Warford went off, belting eight home runs in the second round — including a run of five in a row — to run away with the competition.
He was quick to credit his pitcher Frank Humber for finding his sweet spot time and time again.
“I usually don’t like facing a lefty, but I know Frank can put it where I want to hit it, so facing him was pretty good,” Warford said. “He hit the perfect spot every time, right where I needed it.”
Smashing round-trippers in a contest like this one is also much different than doing it during a real game, he said.
“In a real game your head is going everywhere — you’re thinking curveball, fastball, you don’t know what’s coming,” said Warford. “You’ve got a completely different mindset. You’re just trying to get base hits, 90 feet at a time.
“Here you’re pretty much just swinging as hard as you can.”
The 19-year-old never expected to be the one representing the Barons at the national derby in St. John’s, but sees the comical side of it.
“I’m still kind of a kid in ways and there are a lot of men on this team, a lot of filled-out guys,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of big guys at nationals too, I would imagine, so it’ll be pretty funny to see me walking up.”