South Jersey could have a representative in the innaugural T-Mobile Little League Home Run Derby.
Twelve-year-old Finn Haines, of Northfield, won a local home run derby organized by the Absecon Little League on June 15. He will compete in the regional derby at SunTrust Park, home of the MLB’s Atlanta Braves, on Sunday.
“I was pretty excited to hear (that I was going to Atlanta) to play in a big-league stadium and watch and see how cool it looks,” Haines said.
Sixteen kids from Atlantic County competed in the derby.
According to Neal, New Jersey is part of Eastern Region No. 4, which includes Washington, D.C., Maryland, Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania.
The top two scores from each of the country’s four regions qualified for the regional derby in Atlanta. Two wild cards from those four regions will also compete to fill out a 10-person field.
They follow a similar format on the West Coast, with a regional derby at the Seattle Mariners’ T-Mobile Park.
The top four from Atlanta and Seattle each will compete in the final derby to be held Aug. 17-18 during the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. This is the first year Little League is holding this competition.
The Little League World Series runs from Aug. 15-25.
Absecon Little League President Eric Neal, who registered the league to host the derby, is excited to see an area kid on the big stage.
“The game of baseball is facing some challenges in all of our towns locally here,” Neal said.
“Kids are playing other sports or just not playing sports at all, so any excitement that we can bring to the game of baseball was what drove me to do this.”