Believe it or not, despite racking up multiple awards throughout his college career at Southern Illinois University, when Chris Serritella stepped to the plate in Tuesday's New York-Penn League Home Run Derby, it was the first time he's ever been a part of one.
And after watching the first guy end his session without a homer and the second batter send five over the fence, Serritella could feel the nerves start to tug. Nobody wants to be the guy to leave without a dinger, but at the same time nobody wants to fall short after the previous batter sets the pace.
"The first guy didn't hit any home runs," Serritella said. "The second guy hit five home runs, which helped because it got the home runs out of the way and got the crowd into it."
It was quite a situation for the young player, standing at the plate with a large crowd anticipating a hitting display. And despite the nervous feelings, along with appearing in his first derby, Serritella delivered.
"The toughest part was getting that first home run out of the way," Serritella said. "Once I got that first one out of the way I was able to relax a little and it just felt good. It was definitely key to get that first one out of the way."
"It was the first derby I had ever been in. It was definitely a cool experience. It was really fun. I had a great time with a great group of guys. It was just a bonus I was able to win it."
Serritella blasted two homers in his first round and finished up with a five home run display to closeout the tournament and claim the top spot.
It was a great all-around showing for Williamsport's team at the all-star game. Roman Quinn connected with an inside-the-park home run, finishing with two hits, two RBIs, and a run scored. Serritella provided some offensive pop with a single, helping lead the NL All-stars to an 8-1 victory.
"It was great representing the team there," Serritella said. "Roman Quinn had an inside-the-park home run and I think overall we did a great job representing the team."
Serritella had to feel a little comfort batting at Mahoning Valley's stadium. In five appearances this season, Serritella has five hits, driving in a run and scoring three in the Niles, Ohio, stadium
His best performance at the field came as part of a 6-2 Cutters win. He finished with two of the team's seven hits, scoring twice.
"I just went up there to swing," Serritella said of the derby. "I thought about it and wasn't too nervous. I was just excited about it. That was my overall approach. I just wanted to have fun with it."
Serritella has seemed to have instant appeal with the fans since joining the Cutters at the beginning of the season. Be it his knack for hitting, engaging personality or being a fourth-round pick with a college resume that reads like most professional athletes, Serritella has shown he fits right in with the Williamsport crowd.