OMAHA, Neb. (Ole Miss Athletics/WTVA) - Ole Miss baseball’s Thomas Dillard has been selected to the roster for the ninth annual Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans College Home Run Derby at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska, on Saturday, June 30, Intersport announced today. Dillard is one of six men’s college baseball players selected for the event that will air live on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. CT. He was invited to take part in the College Home Run Derby after being recognized as one of the top power hitters in college baseball.
Dillard is the third Rebel to be selected for the College Home Run Derby and the second in the last three years, joining Colby Bortles (2016) and Sikes Orvis (2014).
The sophomore out of Oxford High School hit .310 with a team-high 13 home runs this season to go along with 15 doubles and two triples. Dillard also led Ole Miss with 59 RBI and 67 runs scored, ending his season with the most runs produced by any player in the SEC. He also stole a team-high 17 bases. As the Rebel clean-up hitter, Dillard drew a team-high 49 walks and led his squad in on-base percentage (.439) and slugging (.563) for an OPS just over 1.000.
Dillard hit a number of monstrous home runs for Ole Miss this season, including the hardest-hit home run by a Rebel in 2018, a 435-foot blast against Eastern Illinois that left his bat at 111.7 mph. Perhaps the biggest home run highlight of the switch-hitter’s season came as a series-winning three-run bomb against LSU.
In his second season as a Rebel, Dillard improved his batting average by .104 points and increased his home run total by nine. He was an integral part of an Ole Miss offense that was arguably the best in the conference en route to a regular-season SEC West Division title. He also earned All-Tournament honors as the Rebels captured the 2018 SEC Tournament Championship.
The annual College Home Run Derby showcases some of college baseball’s premier sluggers, all of whom have ranked among the nation’s home run leaders during the 2018 season. This is Omaha’s chance to see baseball’s stars of tomorrow. Former champions include current New York Yankees superstar and 2017 American League Rookie of the Year winner Aaron Judge, who led the AL with 52 home runs in 2017.
A complete list of participants will be released at a later date.
The College Home Run Derby includes three rounds of play: Round 1 featuring all contestants, Round 2 featuring the hitters with the top four scores after Round 1, and Round 3 featuring the top two sluggers after Round 2.
Contestants in each round will have a timed period of four minutes to hit as many home runs as they can, rather than the traditional 10-out method. Once the timed period concludes, contestants will have one final opportunity to hit a home run with the “Bonus Ball.” If successful, two additional home runs will be added to the contestant’s total score. The new timed format, rather than the traditional 10-out method, has produced record-breaking action and drama since it was introduced to the competition in 2016. A record 185 home runs were hit in 2016 when this timed format was used for the first time, shattering the previous record of 128, and the competition has been decided by the final pitch each of the last two years.