Omaha, NE — Morehead State sophomore slugger Niko Hulsizer and New York Yankees and Major League home run leader Aaron Judge now have something in common, and hey, make that two things in common to be exact.
Hulsizer smacked 49 actual home runs and also connected on the money balls (worth 2 homers) Saturday night to win the 2017 College Home Run Derby at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.
Hulsizer, who once hit a home run at Yankee Stadium just like Judge has done so many times this year, advanced to the finals after hitting 35 dingers in the first two rounds. He then hit 15 actual homers and nailed the money ball out for a total of 17 in the finale. Alabama’s Chandler Taylor came in second, narrowly missing the money ball after trailing Hulsizer by one in the finals after his four-minute clock closed out.
He joins an elite group of just eight college players who have won the Derby. Judge won the event in 2012. Hulsizer’s 49 homers were tied with Taylor for the second highest total in College Home Run Derby history. Assistant coach Adam Brown served as Hulsizer’s pitcher.
Hulsizer was humble afterwards, especially after wearing a wristband all night honoring a close friend who passed away recently, but was excited to bring the coveted trophy back to Morehead State.
“I tried to just relax and get in the flow all night and trust my body and my swing,” he said. “This was such a fun event, and it just shows that guys from smaller schools have power too.”
Participants included players from Alabama, Duke, Clemson, Kentucky and Vanderbilt along with Hulsizer.
He finished the 2017 season leading the nation in RBI per game and ranked second in the nation with an MSU and OVC single-season record 27 home runs.