No shortage of power in Dan Jipping's bat at inaugural Home Run DerbyBaseball  |
DETROIT, Mich. - Initially, Dan Jipping wasn't even selected as one of the original participants of the inaugural Muscle Milk Heavy Hitters Home Run Derby. Three players had to drop out of the event, including Kory Young of Rockford, and Brother Rice's Ty Kiafoulis and Randy Righter, so Jippling was chosen as an alternate.
"I got called two days ago," said Jipping on been chosen as an alternate for the event. "Luke (Shilling) was in it, so he was giving me the lowdown, and then when kids dropped out, he put my name in, so big thanks to Luke Shilling."
Jipping, who played his high school baseball at Plymouth Christian Academy, also helped himself out in the tournament with his big bat. He hit nine home runs in the first round, surpassing Shillings' number of eight, to advance to the finals. His first two swings sent balls over Wayne State University's version of "The Green Monster", onto the I-94 Highway. That's when you knew Jipping had a chance to win it all.
"Luke said I'd only hit one over of the monster; he was just messing with me," said Jipping. "During batting practice, I was just thinking that this is going to be a hike getting it over that thing. You have to hit that pretty high and far, so it was pretty awesome to be able to do it."
Before Jipping was blasting baseballs out of the park, Walled Lake Northern's Brennan Williams hit 14 of his own in the first round, to advance to the finals. He looked like the early favorite with that number, but Jipping would soon put on a performance for the ages.
The Central Michigan commit hit a whopping 30 home runs in the final round, to basically put things out of reach for Williams. Twenty of those were hit over the right field wall at Wayne State, while the others were sent onto the Lodge Highway in centerfield. Out of Jipping's 39 home runs, 26 of them he hit over the monster.
"I started to get tired at number 14," Jipping said of his home run spree. "I wasn't really tired, I was just thinking if I could hit more than this. When was I going to start choking?
"It really started to get grueling around twenty, when I was really trying to poke them out, but I work out a little bit," he laughed.
Standing 6-2, and 215-pounds certainly helped Jipping power majority of his home runs out of the park, even embedding one into a car's windshield, but he also got some professional help just before things got started. Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler attended the event, offering instructional batting practice to the players beforehand.
"He (Kinsler) told me to keep my hips straight, and not step over my feet," said Jipping. "Afterwards he just said nice job, and that I hit some nice balls. He was pretty nice about everything.
"You want to do your best in front of the biggest people. You dream of playing with these guys, so to play in front of them is pretty sweet too."
Jipping's performance sort of took away from what the other participants were able to do with the bat, but a few others also had solid outings. Brandon Williams of Sterling Heights Stevenson hit seven home runs in the first round, while Jose Nelson (Warren De La Salle), and Dazon Cole (West Bloomfield) both finished with five.