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Alaska Baseball

With 7 big blasts, Mat-Su’s Justin Kirby wins the ABL home run derby

  • Author: Anchorage Daily News
  • Updated: July 14, 2019
  • Published July 14, 2019

Justin Kirby of the Mat-Su Miners takes a big swing during Sunday's Alaska Baseball League Home Run Derby. (Bill Roth / ADN)

When Justin Kirby goes back to Kent State in the fall, he can tell his teammates that he accomplished something Aaron Judge couldn’t.

He won the ABL’s Home Run Derby.

An outfielder for the Mat-Su Miners, Kirby outdueled Blake Paugh of the Anchorage Bucs in the derby’s final round Sunday at Mulcahy Stadium.

Kirby, who batted last in the two-man finals, knocked seven balls out of the park to beat Paugh, who blasted six.

Mat-Su Miners outfielder Justin Kirby, left, is congratulated by teammates after winning the Alaska Baseball League's Home Run Derby on Sunday. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Kirby hit for power as a college freshman at Kent State, belting nine home runs, two triples and 14 doubles to lead the Mid-American Conference with a .619 slugging percentage.

He was selected to the Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American team and was the MAC’s freshman of the year, and he was named the national player of the week after hitting three home runs in a single game against Northern Illinois on April 19.

Kirby, who has five home runs in 30 games this summer with the Miners, hit 13 homers in Sunday’s first round. That put him in the finals with Paugh, a University of Arizona outfielder who has an ABL-best seven homers in 30 games for the Bucs.

Though the title eluded him, Paugh is in good company. In 2011, Aaron Judge fell short in the ABL Home Run Derby, but six years later won Major League Baseball 's Home Run Derby for the New York Yankees.