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Mets’ Pete Alonso captures second straight Home Run Derby crown

New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso edged out Baltimore Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini in the final round to repeat as Home Run Derby champion in front of an electric sold-out crowd at Coors Field on Monday night.

Mancini, who spent the 2020 season undergoing chemotherapy treatments after being diagnosed with colon cancer, entered with the second-longest odds of winning the event. But he beat Matt Olson and Trevor Story to advance into the final round, then amassed 22 home runs.

Alonso followed with four home runs in his first six swings and was at 12 when he took a timeout with 36 seconds left in his initial two minutes. He produced five more, getting to 17 going into his 60 seconds of bonus time, then hit six more within the next 29 seconds to capture the trophy and a bejeweled, spinning necklace.

Alonso also hit 23 home runs to beat Toronto Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the final round of the 2019 event, the last time the All-Star Game was staged.

Shohei Ohtani, the event’s headliner, was eliminated by Washington Nationals star Juan Soto after an exhilarating first round that included two tiebreakers and a combined 61 home runs, 10 of which traveled 500-plus feet.

Ohtani started slow, producing only one home run in his first 16 swings. But he rallied late, thanks in part to an impromptu phone call from Mike Trout, and hit two home runs within the last 10 seconds of his round to tie Soto’s original total of 22. They each followed with six home runs in the one-minute tiebreaker. But Soto went 3-for-3 in the ensuing swing-off and Ohtani produced a hard grounder to the right side, ending his night.

This year’s Derby — a three-round, eight-player, bracket-style tournament with timed rounds — was staged in the sport’s most notoriously hitter-friendly ballpark, with baseballs that were not stored in the humidors that attempt to normalize the mile-high environment.

The first round showed that.

It produced 208 home runs, three of which exceeded 513 feet — the previous Derby record, set by Aaron Judge in 2017, in the six years since Statcast has been tracking the event. Ohtani hit 15 home runs that traveled 475-plus feet, and Soto hit one 520 feet into the third deck in right-center. Salvador Perez amassed 28 home runs, the most ever by a catcher, and he barely had a chance at advancing. He lost to Alonso, who hit 35 home runs, third-most in any Derby round.

Three of the four first-round matchups went down to the wire. Oakland Athletics first baseman Olson trailed Mancini by one, and his last swing produced a deep drive to right field that hooked foul. Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo, who got hot late, was one shy of tying Colorado Rockies shortstop Story, but his last swing with time remaining produced a fly ball that fell shy of the center-field fence.

Story, who is expected to be traded before the end of the month, with only 12 second-round homers, a total that Mancini surpassed with relative ease. Alonso was one shy of tying Soto’s second-round total of 15, then called timeout with a little over a minute left, declined a water, turned to hype up the crowd, continued to bop his head to the music and promptly hit two majestic home runs to advance into the final round.