Tonawanda News — His third and final at-bat wasn’t as dramatic. But the intentional walk issued by the opposing pitcher from St. Paul’s was certainly warranted.
Town of Tonawanda resident Kyle Michaels finished 2-for-2 at the plate, belting a pair of home runs to a familiar spot in right field to help his team, BSAC LaHacienda Brighton, defeat St. Paul’s 13-7 to capture a Town of Tonawanda Grasshopper Division (12-under) Championship Monday at Brighton Park.
It was head coach Mark Zirnheld’s first championship in more than 25 years of coaching. It was also, however, one of the greatest individual feats he’s ever witness on a baseball diamond.
As it turned out, Michaels’ two homers in the championship game were Nos. seven and eight, respectively — in a row.
Michaels finished the season with a bang — quite literally — as his bat packed a punch even Brighton Park couldn’t handle. His eight consecutive home runs, Zirnheld said, may be among the most ever.
“I’ve never seen anything like it in 25 years,” Zirnheld said, noting the most consecutive home runs ever recorded (via his own internet research) was nine. “... (Littleleague.org) has some bizarre home runs stat that they keep and some kid hit 50 home runs in a season. I find that hard to believe, but you never know.”
Michaels, though, is proof that the unimaginable is surely possible.
“He started off the season and was not a great hitter,” Zirnheld said. “He had a little bit of power, but he had trouble sometimes making contact.”
Around the midway point of the season, Michaels locked in.
“In practice I started throwing it as hard as I could,” the coach said. “But the harder you throw it, the harder he hits it.”
Michaels’ streak started back during one of his team’s final regular season games. After his first home run, Zirnheld said one of his teammates bet him $10 he couldn’t hit a second one.
Boy was he wrong.
“He ran around the bases and touched home plate and said, ‘where’s my $10?’” Zirnheld said with a laugh.
He ended that game with three home runs, which led to a player’s parent betting him he couldn’t hit three home runs in a game again. And he did.
“I’m sure he felt some pressure, but he’s not the type of kid who’s going to worry about hitting a home run every time,” Zirnheld said.
The average home run distance in little league is roughly somewhere between 240 and 300 feet, he said. Seven of the eight home runs also landed in nearly the same exact spot, in right field near a golf course bunker.
“We actually measured one of his home runs at 350 (feet),” he said.
Though next year he’ll be too old to play for the BSAC, the record will still stand. At least for now.Contact Tonawanda News sports editor Brandon Koch at 693-1000, ext. 4117.