Despite high winds that sometimes hindered and other times helped the hitters, balls still flew over the Rockport Recreation Park fences at a high rate Sunday during the ninth annual Mikail R. Russo More Opportunities for NEighborhood Youth (MONEY) Athletic Foundation Home Run Derby.

When the dust settled on a beautiful, sunny day, Rockland District High School and Camden-Rockport Middle School student-athletes ruled the batter’s box. Luke Morrill of Rockland and Connor Graffam of Camden-Rockport won the high school and middle school division respectively.

A few years ago, Morrill had won the middle school division.

The event, which raised $7,500 this year, had plenty of volunteers, including a slew of fielders who retrieved balls that flew all over the park. Among those who flashed the most consistently solid leather were Keagan Russo, Wayne Judkins and Paul Russo, who made the catch of the day by running after a ball and snagging it while still talking on his cell phone. On that play, there was no dropped call or ball.

Midcoast student-athletes from Waldoboro to Searsport sold raffle tickets to gain entry into the home run derby. Once again, the MONEY Athletic Foundation raffled prizes and gift certificates. Athletes who sold at least 12 tickets were automatically eligible to participate in the home run derby where they competed to hit the ball over a series of fences and accumulate points toward a championship.

One point was awarded for hitting a ball over the closest fence, two points for clearing the second fence and three (and another free swing) for hitting a ball over the park’s real outfield fence, which is between 275 to 350 feet away from home plate.

Raffle prizes included tickets to the Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Portland Sea Dogs games; gift certificates to local area shops and restaurants; rounds of golf; overnight stays at hotels; and live lobster, among other things. The top seller received four tickets to a Red Sox game this summer.

The top seller was Wyatt Parra of Lincolnville, who sold 146 tickets. Brandon Benson of Lincolnville was second at 30 in the middle school division. In the high school division, Kyle Durkee was the top ticket seller with 30.

“We’re very thankful for all of the community support,” said Paul Russo, Mikail’s dad. “I can’t stress enough how much that means to us, and to our mission. The local businesses are tremendous in their backing of area charities such as the MONEY Athletic Foundation, and the people are wonderful. For us it’s all about working with, and helping out the young people. We feel good about running a fundraiser that directly involves them in both the work and the fun, and we all had a lot of fun today.”

The home run derby began at 11 a.m. for middle school participants and 1 p.m. for high school entrants. There was also an adult open competition that followed the high school division where those wishing to participate made $20 donation and took a few cuts. All participants received a t-shirt.

This year the winners of the home run derby in both the middle and high school divisions — Graffam and Morrill respectively — took home special commemorative hand-turned wooden bats crafted by Tom Ventura of Ventura Wooden Bats in Biddeford. Ventura’s work can be seen online at

Proceeds from this event are used to benefit young local athletes. Last year, the MONEY Athletic Foundation awarded more than $16,000 in grants, and, to date, has helped more than 500 deserving athletes go to summer camp, participate on travel teams, and purchase equipment.

For more information about the MONEY Athletic Foundation, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, visit online at

Home run derby results

High school — First round: Dillon Reed, 13 (including three three-point homers); Luke Morrill, 13; Dylan Maloney, 12; Derrick Bernosky, 11; Bryant Matthews, nine; Taylor Williamson, nine; Andrew Baxter, eight; Cote Ward, eight; Zac Dufour, seven; Brandon Knight, seven; Steven Genthner, five; Drew Townsend, five; Alec Young, five; Durkee, five; and Dylan Meklin, four. The top 10 hitters, plus ties, advanced to the second round, which included each batter starting fresh with no points.

Second round: Morrill, 22, Matthews, 11; Williamson, 10; Maloney, 10; Reed, nine; Ward, eight; Knight, eight; Bernosky, six; Dufour, six; and Baxter, four. Morrill put on an impressive show in the second round as he doubled the points of his closest competitor. Morrill, a left-hander, ripped five balls completely out of the park for 15 points.

Middle school — First round: Jake Davee, six; Will Mossing, four; Sean Pierce, four; Gregory Clark, four; Cailean Schhecter, two; Benson, two; Daulton Wickenden, two; Graffam, two; Tyler Tran, two; Justin Stearns, one; Jake Powell, one; Shawn Secotte, one; Ben Caron, one; Parra, one; Eli Zuckerman, none; Ben Rollins, none; Nick Bennett, none; Nathan Zuckerman, none; and Matthew Ansart, none. The top 10 hitters, plus ties, advanced to the second round, which included each batter starting fresh with no points.

Second round: Graffam, nine (including three two-point homers); Pierce, six; Clark, six; Davee, five; Mossing, four; Wickenden, four; Secotte, four; Schecter, three; Caron, three; Powell, two; Parra, two; Tran, two; Stearns, one; and Benson, one.

Open division: Fifteen batters took part in this division, with the winner being Scott Briggs of Portland with 19 points. Tyler Patterson of Rockland was second with seven.

Village NetMedia Regional Editor/Sports Director Ken Waltz can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at