Tom Lufft lived out a fantasy Wednesday night at the first American Legion Wood Bat Invitational Home Run Derby.
So did his son, Jake, a slugger for the Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s.
The A’s assistant coach was on the mound pitching to Jake, one of the premier home run hitters in the metro area, as a standing room only crowd cheered every pitch while watching the first-time event at Hidden Valley Park’s Field 3.
“I’ve been pitching to Jake and his brother Jeremy in our backyard since they were little kids, and there I am – on the mound pitching to Jake in the Home Run Derby. It was pretty amazing,” Tom Lufft said.
After a slow start, in which Jake hit just one home run in the 12-pitch first round, father and son got in sync in Round 2 and he finished with five homers to win the event.
“I know right where he likes a pitch to try and hit a home run – about belt high and a little inside – and I got a few right there in the first round, but we were really working together in the second round,” Tom said.
Jake – last year’s Examiner High School Baseball Player of the Year – said teaming with his father in the Home Run Derby provided a memory he will never forget.
“My dad is my pitcher, he’s been my pitcher since I was 3 or 4,” Jake said after he collected two hits and two RBIs in the A’s 10-2 mercy-rule victory over Ottawa (Kan.) Post 60 Thursday afternoon at Hidden Valley. “In the first round, I finished with one home run and a guy finished with two and no one else hit a homerun, so we both automatically advanced to the second round. My dad was on fire the second round – every pitch was right where I wanted it.”
The right-hander pulled all five home runs to left field.
“I was pretty confident, even though I hit just one home run the first round,” Jake said. “The only thing better than tonight would be if I live out my dream and make it the big leagues and my dad gets to pitch to me in the Major League Home Run Derby.
“But he’s getting old, so guess I better do my best to make that happen pretty quick.”
Jake received a new Hoosier Bat Co., wooden bat for winning the event.