Organized by Drew Waters, the 2016 Crushin’ for Carson! Home Run Derby – a community fundraiser for Carson Rozsman and his family – was a smashing success and raised over $11,300! The overwhelming support of the local community and the professional baseball community was impressive. Over 70 hitters ages 8-18 showed up to compete. Over 20 professional and college hitters showed up to compete. Over 10 VIPs attended to cast their support as well. Current major leaguer, Spencer Kieboom (Nationals), attended. Former major leaguers Todd Greene, Adam Everett, Jeremy Hermida, Kyle Davies, and Brian Moehler attended. Current minor leaguers Kent Emanuel (Astros), Carter Kieboom (Nationals), Josh Merrigan (Rangers), Dwight Smith, Jr. (Blue Jays), Zach Bowers (Giants), Will Benson (Indians), Skye Bolt (A’s), Curtis Terry (Rangers), Chad Smith (Rangers), Will Solomon (Padres), Chesny Young (Cubs), Jay Baum (Mariners), Stephen Wrenn (Astros), Josh Hart (Orioles), and London Lindley (Rangers) attended. Former minor leaguers Nelson Pedraza, Jason Keeline, Luke Murton, and Keith Grunewald attended. And if the turnout was not impressive enough, Atlanta Braves great and National Baseball Hall of Fame member, Tom Glavine, also attended.
The evening at Aviation Sports Complex in Marietta, Georgia, was special on many levels. The national anthem was performed by 15-year-old Mary Tankersley, a sophomore at Harrison High School. When she was in the sixth grade, Mary was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, cancer of the bone in her right leg. Mary underwent multiple surgeries and 28 weeks of chemotherapy, which she completed in 2013. Since that time she has taken dance classes, learned to run again, and has been an ambassador for childhood cancer research.
Matthew Willis and Zak Rozsman officially started the event when they combined to throw out the ceremonial first pitches to Spencer Kieboom (Washington Nationals) and Drew Waters (event host) respectively. At the age of 13, Matthew was diagnosed with a Ewing-like sarcoma (Cancer of the bone) in his left pelvis. Matthew received chemo-therapy for 5 months as well as 5-6 weeks of radiation before a major surgery to remove the tumor. Since that time Matthew has become an avid fisherman, is working on the final stages of achieving the rank of Eagle Scout, and enjoys working at Towne Lake Hills golf club. He also enjoys helping other people understand the importance of childhood cancer research. Zak Roszman is the 13-year-old older brother of Carson (unable to attend the event) and member of 6-4-3 DP Baseball’s 13U Cougars team.
Home Run Derby - Preliminary Round Summary
Seven (7) amateurs advanced from the preliminary round into the semifinals of the home run derby. Giovanni Fortunato (C/INF), a 10-year-old who played with 6-4-3 DP Baseball last season, advanced in the 8-12U division by swatting five (5) home runs. Barrett Eldridge (1B), a 12-year-old who plays with East Cobb Baseball, advanced in the 8-12U division by also tallying five (5) home runs. Ryan Novak (LHP/OF/1B), a 12-year-old who plays with 6-4-3 DP Baseball, advanced in the 8-12U division by hitting three (3) home runs. In the 13-14U division, it was Reid Jones (RHP/C/INF), a 14-year-old who plays with 6-4-3 DP Baseball, leading the way with three (3) home runs. Mark Gallups (C/1B), a 14-year-old who plays with 6-4-3 DP Baseball, tallied two (2) home runs to advance. Austin Cole (CF), a 14-year-old who plays with 6-4-3 DP Baseball, also advanced from the 13-14U division. In the 15-18+ division, Kennett Sorenson (C/OF), an 18-year-old who plays with 6-4-3 DP Baseball and is committed to play collegiately at Nebraska, smashed five (5) home runs to advance to the semifinals. Drew Waters (OF), host of the event and 18-year-old who plays with 6-4-3 DP Baseball and is committed to play collegiately at the University of Georgia, advanced as a special entry into the semifinals.
Home Run Derby - Semifinal Round Summary
The semifinal round pitted sixteen professional hitters, two college hitters, one raffle winner, and eight amateurs (including host Drew Waters) against one another. The semifinals were dominated by two participants. Jay Baum (Mariners) crushed six (6) home runs. However, Curtis Terry (Rangers) stole the show with his ten (10) home run performance to lead all semifinal round participants.
Final Round Summary
With the event going longer than expected, the home run derby was modified for semifinal standouts, Jay Baum and Curtis Terry, to compete head-to-head for the championship. As expected from his power displayed in the semifinal round, it was Curtis Terry who won the 2016 Crushin’ for Carson! Home Run Derby. Curtis, a graduate of Archer High School in Lawrenceville, GA, was a 2015 MLB Draft Selection for the Texas Rangers. Curtis was selected in the 13th round, and was most recently playing for the short-season Rangers affiliate in Spokane. Coming of a 2016 campaign that saw him hit .300 for most of the season, Curtis is poised to have a solid 2017 season for the Rangers organization.
Thanks to all the amateur and pro hitters, VIPs, volunteers and supporters, the 2016 Crushin! For Carson Home Run Derby! was a terrific success. Through admission and derby entry fees, the sale of t-shirts and concession items, and a silent auction, over $11,300 was raised for Carson Rozsman and his family. In addition, a gift will be made to the Rally Foundation in Carson’s honor (generated from raffle proceeds). Thanks to all who attended the event at Aviation Sports Complex in Marietta, Georgia, and made possible its tremendous success!
Crushin' for Carson! is the high school senior project of Drew Waters. Waters, a senior at Etowah High School who is also finishing his prep career with 6-4-3 DP Baseball, organized the home run derby event for Carson Rozsman, a 9-year-old player who is also a member of the 6-4-3 academy. As many now know, Carson was diagnosed with an inoperable, malignant, brain tumor over the summer. Waters organized the Crushin' for Carson! home run derby to raise money for Carson and his family as they courageously fight cancer. 6-4-3 DP Baseball is very proud to fully support Drew Waters and his project - Crushin' for Carson!