Tampa native Pete Alonso becomes back-to-back Home Run Derby champion


National League’s Pete Alonso, of the New York Mets, cheers during the first round of the MLB All Star baseball Home Run Derby, Monday, July 12, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

TAMPA (WFLA/AP) – Mets slugger Pete Alonso defended his Home Run Derby title by beating Salvador Perez, Juan Soto and Trey Mancini.

Alonso who graduated from Plant High School hit 23 home runs to beat Mancini in the final who went to Winter Haven High School.

Alonso and his blue-and-orange bat went 6 for 6 in a 28-second stretch to give him 23 homers in the final round after Mancini hit 22 in the thin Rocky Mountain air. Alonso in total hit 74 home runs on the night.

The 26-year-old Alonso joins Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. (1998-99) and Yoenis Céspedes (2013-14) as the only players to win two straight. Alonso has one distinction, though — his titles are over three seasons. There wasn’t an event last season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Before stepping to the plate for the final, Alonso danced and sang along with the crowd to Journey’s hit song “Don’t Stop Believin.’” He didn’t stop believing, either.

Needing six to win, he made quick work of that. After his winning blast, Alonso flexed for a brief moment, headed toward the mound and then put on a giant chain. Pitching strikes to Alonso was Dave Jauss, the team’s bench coach.

It was quite a ride for Baltimore’s Mancini, who was a long shot to win the event. The 29-year-old returned this season after treatment for colon cancer. He was diagnosed during spring training last year and missed the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

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