Who would have expected after watching home runs sail well beyond the park’s final fence, two of which traveled over the left-field scoreboard and several that soared deep into the woods in right field, that the high school champion of the 10th annual Mikail R. Russo — More Opportunities for NEighborhood Youth (MONEY) Athletic Foundation Home Run Derby — would be crowned thanks to a pop-up to medium deep right field?

But that is what happened after Rockland District High School senior teammates Lucas Morrill and Joe Nelsen thrilled the crowd — and their competitors — with bomb after bomb over the last of three fences in Sunday’s event at the Marge Jones Recreation Facility on Route 90. Nelsen appeared to have the home run title in the hand after a sensational second round before Morrill caught, and surpassed his teammate, in the competition’s final at-bat.

Morrill won by one point — 42-41 — when his final batted ball sailed over the closest fence for one point, a ball that ultimately traveled less than half the distance of most of both Tigers’ previous mammoth home runs.

Morrill won the event’s high school division for the second straight year.

In the middle school division, Andrew Hall and Daulton Wickenden, both Camden-Rockport Middle School student-athletes, finished tied for first before Hall tallied one more point — 12-11 — in the final two-batter showdown.

Student-athletes from Waldoboro to Searsport sold raffle tickets to gain entry into the event.

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 derby where they competed to hit the ball over a series of three fences located varying distances from home plate and accumulated points towards a championship — one point for a ball over the closest fence, two for the second fence and three (and an extra swing) for a ball over the final fence, or the real outfield fence at the park.

Each competitor started with 10 swings.

The competition for the high school batters was the total number of points in two rounds. For the middle school batters, the format was all batters took 10 swings and the top eight moved on to the second round for 10 additional swings. Hall and Wickenden tied in the final round and had a 10-swing playoff, so to speak, with Hall winning 12-11.

In the high school event, Morrill tallied 22 points in the first round and Nelsen 13. But Nelsen came back with an eye-opening 28 in the second round to take what appeared a comfortable lead. However, Morrill, who will play Division I baseball at the University of Maine in Orono starting next year, had other ideas, finished his second round with 20 points for a total of 42 overall — one better than Nelsen.

Bryant Matthews of Georges Valley also was in the hunt after the first round.

Morrill and Nelsen, close friends since sixth grade and always friendly competitors, drove to the derby together, which must have made for an interesting ride home after the event.

“It was a good time,” said Morrill. “I love going over there. Paul [Russo] has a real good thing going on over there and it’s a lot of fun. And Joe didn’t get to do it last year so I’m glad he was able to go over there this year.”

Morrill said, “The first round I had a pretty good round. Joe had 13 in the first round and I had 22. I hit the ball well in the first round, then the second round came along and Joe went on a tear. He had 28 points, which I thought put it away right there. Then I was the last one to bat.

“I went up there and hit two line drives down the first-base line. No points for it. Then I just kind of gathered myself and started hitting balls hard in the air and trying to get it out. I knew I had to get some points quick. Then I went on a little tear and ended up beating Joe by one.

“I had no idea. I think I hit two or three over in my last round so I knew I was getting up there, but when I skied that last one I had no idea what the score was at that point and it just barely got over the first fence. At that point I didn’t think it was enough. All I could think was, ‘Well, at least Joe won from Rockland.’ Two years in a row a kid from Rockland wins it so I thought that was pretty cool.”

Morrill said the Tigers suffered a tough, unexpected 3-1 loss to visiting Mount View of Thorndike the day before in Rockland’s final regular-season home game ever, “so it was nice to go out there and just have a little fun.”

“After I finished, I knew I was close but I didn’t think I was going to win. So I just went over there thinking he was going to win and I have no problem with that. Teammates and everything, so I was happy for him. Then they called my name and I just kind of laughed about it, gave Joe a big hug and it was a tough loss for Joe.”

Nelsen added, “The first round I got 13 points, so I wasn’t thinking too much about me winning or anything,” he said. “Luke hit 22, so I was aiming for second. I knew it would be kind of tough because Bryant [Matthews] is a really good hitter, but I just went up there and got 28 in the second round, which is real good.

“I’m not going to say I wasn’t cheering for Luke, because I was cheering for him. I wanted him to hit as many home runs as he could when he was up, but he started hitting more and more … we were talking about it afterwards. We both wanted to win, so after he hit 15 or 16 I was getting anxious and kind of hoping he’d mess up a little bit.”

Nelsen concluded, “When I found out he only beat me by one, I was surprised. It was cool. Me and him finished first and second and we represented our school [well]. I think that’s what’s real important. I mean, I would have liked to have won, but if I lose it might as well be to Luke.”

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 items. The top seller, Brandon Benson of Lincolnville Central School, sold 118 raffle tickets and received four tickets to a Red Sox game this summer.

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

This year the winners of the derby in both the middle (Hall) and high school (Morrill) divisions took home a commemorative, hand-turned wooden bat crafted by Tom Ventura of Ventura Wooden Bats in Biddeford. Ventura’s work can be seen online at venturawoodenbats.com.

Proceeds from the derby are used to benefit young local athletes. Last year the MONEY Athletic Foundation awarded more than $16,250 in grants, and, to date, has helped more than 500 deserving athletes go to summer camp, participate on travel teams, and purchase equipment.

There also were hamburgers and hot dogs provided by Micucci Wholesale Foods of Portland and Hannaford in Camden.

Paul Russo, father of Mikail Russo, for whom the event is held in memory of, said the organization wanted to hold the home run derby at least 10 years and has now accomplished that. He said the group will convene later to reevaluate the future of the derby.

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

The results from the competition were:

High school

First round — Drew Townsend, Georges Valley, 6; Chris Brown, Camden Hills, 1; Dylan Maloney, Georges Valley, 6; Chris Pettee, Camden, 4; Matthews, Georges Valley, 14; Nelsen, Rockland, 13; Ben Oakes-Boynton, Georges Valley, 4; Morrill, Rockland, 22; and Brandon Knight, Georges Valley, 6. In that round, Morrill hit four balls completely out of the park, while Matthews finished with two and Nelsen one.

Second round — Brown, 3 for a total of 4 points; Oakes-Boynton, 4 for a total of 8; Pettee, 2 for a total of 6; Townsend, 6 for a total of 12; Maloney, 6 for a total of 18; Knight, 11 for a total of 17; Nelsen, 28 for a total of 41; Matthews, 9 for a total of 23; and Morrill, 20 for a total of 42. In that round, Nelsen hit six completely out of the park, Morrill finished with four out of the park and Knight and Malone both one.

Middle school

First round — Benson, Lincolnville, 1; Jacob Powell, Searsport, 5; Julian Starbird, Hope, 2; Wyatt Parra, Lincolnville, 1; Geoff Frost, Searsport, 3; Hall, Camden-Rockport, 3; Jamie Temple, Medomak, 1; Ben Rollins, Lincolnville, 5; Brayden Perkins, Searsport, none; Ryan Pierce, Camden-Rockport, 5; Wyatt Summers, Lincolnville, 3; Wickenden, Camden-Rockport, 7; and Colt Muir, Lincolnville, 4.

Second round — Frost, 1; Hall, 12; Summers, 4; Muir, 3; Powell, 4; Rollins, 5; Pierce, 2; and Wickenden, 12.

Finals — Hall, 12; and Wickenden, 11.

Village NetMedia Regional Editor/Sports Director Ken Waltz can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at kwaltz@villagesoup.com.