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Triple-A Home Run Derby thrills fans, gets festivities off to good start

SALT LAKE CITY — While many of the game's biggest sluggers were busy bashing the ball at the major league all-star gathering in Arizona, those at the next level and a few notches below put on quite a show at Spring Mobile Ballpark.

Monday's Triple-A All-Star Game Home Run Derby came down to a showdown between Stefan Gartrell of the Gwinnett Braves and Spanish Fork High School standout Kayden Porter.

And the duo didn't disappoint the 9,183 fans in attendance, who saw Gartrell edge Porter 7-5 in a thrilling finale.

The 27-year-old outfielder in the Atlanta Braves organization acknowledged it was a great way to start off the all-star festivities.

"Just being able to come out here to win it and have my family and my fiancee here, everybody and a few Braves fans cheering for me over on the other side, too, that was really fun," Gartrell said.

Porter, who was able to a metal bat, drew praise from the champion. Gartrell said the high school senior-to-be is a "future star in the making" and wished him well.

The experience was something special for Porter.

"It was the loudest baseball experience I've ever had in my life," he said. "Everybody was going crazy. I'm still shaking but it was an awesome thing."

Salt Lake Bees third baseman Jeff Baisley reached the second round after hitting four homers in the first. The blasts were his first in an all-star derby. He came up empty in the Single-A event in 2006.

"It's a little extra pressure but it's fun," Baisley said of being the hometown guy before the competition. "It's your own park, you get your own (batting practice) thrower. So it's a little bit of an advantage."

Unfortunately for Baisley, it wasn't enough. He failed to clear the fence in the second round and was eliminated. Gwinnett Braves infielder Mauro Gomez, who led the derby with five homers in the first round, also failed to make the cut. He hit only two in the second.

Former Ogden Raptors outfielder Trayvon Robinson of the Albuquerque Isotopes and Bonneville High slugger Sam Hall were eliminated after the first round.8

Former major league star and Utah resident Dale Murphy opened the derby with a ceremonial hit. He later presented a retro jersey from his playing days with the Atlanta Braves to Gartrell, who is a step away from getting his own uniform from the organization.

LOOKING BACK: When Salt Lake City hosted the Triple-A Home Run Derby in 1996, Tacoma's Greg Pirkl took top honors and a check for $500 — same as this year's prize. He saw limited action in the majors, however, hitting just eight homers in his career at the next level.

NEXT UP: The Triple-A All-Stars are scheduled to work out at the stadium today, beginning at 12:30 p.m. An autograph session with fans is set for 2:45-3:45 p.m. Both events are open to the public, free of charge. The players will be involved with a "Miracle League" game with kids from Shriners Hospital at 4 p.m.

ON DECK: Wednesday's Triple-A All-Star Game between the International and Pacific Coast leagues is scheduled for 7 p.m. Earlier in the day, Hall of Famer Rod Carew will be the guest speaker at an all-star luncheon.