Our intrepid correspondent and Hyannis Mets intern, Jarred Amato, wrote the following article for CodBall. See also today's Cape Cod Times. Jarred also covered opening day for us several weeks ago.
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HYANNIS -- By now, McKeon Park was almost empty. Most of the crowd had cleared out and his teammates had made their way over to the parking lot, where they anxiously awaited their post-game dinner at a nearby restaurant, but Hyannis third baseman Chris Dominguez still hadn't moved.
He remained glued in front of the Mets dugout, signing one autograph after another with a childish grin across his face. At one point, Dominguez had to politely remind a wide-eyed youngster that he had already signed his T-shirt just a few minutes earlier.
"Oh yeah, you're right," the fan said sheepishly after spotting the signature.
However, no one would have blamed him for wanting two autographs from Dominguez. Not after the Louisville slugger had just turned in one of the most impressive performances in Cape Cod Baseball League history and certainly the greatest in his young but promising career.
Dominguez hit three homers, matching a CCBL wood-bat record set by Frank Thomas in 1988, and drove in five runs, while also turning two double plays to lead Hyannis to a 6-4 victory over visiting Falmouth Wednesday night. The power-hitting right-hander now has twice as many home runs (six) as the rest of the Mets combined (three) to go along with a .297 batting average and team-best 17 RBI.
Count Hyannis coach Rick Robinson among the impressed.
"If we're looking for a mascot next year if we're not going to be the Mets," Robinson said, "I think we need to be the Dominguezes."
That would suit the Hyannis faithful just fine.
Dominguez's first blast came with one on and two out in the bottom of the first, and it was a no-doubter, landing well beyond the 390-feet sign in straightaway centerfield. After grounding out to short in his next at-bat, Dominguez hit his second round-tripper in the sixth. It was a laser that cleared the wall in left-center in a hurry.
The third homer came with one on in the eighth. It wasn't hit as well as the first two and Dominguez even checked his bat on his way to back to the dugout to see if it was broken, but it managed to sneak over the fence in left field nonetheless, much to the delight of his teammates and the Mets crowd, which gave him a standing ovation.
"I wasn't trying for the third one at all," said Dominguez, trying to conceal his laughter. "I was just trying to put the ball in play because usually after you hit two, it's kind of hard to hit a third one."
Kind of hard? Try close to impossible.
Even Dominguez, who hit .365 with 13 doubles, 21 home runs and 75 RBI en route to earning third-team All-American honors and being named Big East Co-Player of the Year in 2008, could not remember the last time he went deep three times in a game.
"It wasn't in college and not in high school either," he said. "It'd have to be Little League probably."
Dominguez said there was no secret formula, no extra batting practice or special advice that he could attribute to his success.
"It's one of those days," Dominguez said modestly. "I just felt good at the plate. I could see the ball very well, and I was lucky. Some days you're on and some days you're not."
The third baseman also shined defensively. In the seventh, Dominguez caught a sharp line drive and fired across the diamond for the double-play, and in the eighth he snagged another liner and stepped on third to help the Mets escape a bases-loaded jam unscathed. Then, with Falmouth threatening in the ninth, Dominguez made a beautiful catch leaning against the dugout railing.
"He just had opportunities to do a lot and he took advantage of every single one of them," Robinson said. "There are a lot of times you have a chance to do exactly the same thing he did, but very few people are ever able to capitalize on every single opportunity and basically that's what he did tonight."
And to think there was a possibility that Dominguez never even made it to Hyannis. The redshirt sophomore was selected in the fifth round of this year's MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies, but decided to return to Louisville ("unless something crazy happens at the end of the summer," he said), which also meant another season on the Cape after playing for Harwich in 2007.
"This is why I came back," said Dominguez, reflecting on his unforgettable night. "My teammates, my host family is great, and all the people you get associated here with on the Cape, it's just an amazing atmosphere."
Dominguez started off slow this summer, but his confidence never wavered and hard work never stopped. The results are starting to show, as Dominguez has now hit five homers in his last four games.
"It was just a lot of stuff, talking to my dad and my family and them helping me, and then just getting back into the swing of things," Dominguez said. "I had gone through a stretch of two or three weeks after my college season ended without doing much."
Robinson noted that Dominguez's ability to make adjustments was crucial.
"It's very obvious that he has an awful lot of power," he said. "The biggest thing for Chris is learning the strike zone and allowing pitchers to throw the ball where he wants to hit it, rather than him trying to hit balls that the pitcher wants him to hit. As the summer has gone along, he has gotten a lot better with the strike zone."
Wednesday's performance was evidence of that, and Dominguez said he had a feeling he would be receiving a fair share of text messages as soon as word spread of his legendary night.
"Actually," said Dominguez, correcting himself. "My phone is broken so I can't even see my text messages. I'll have to call people."
You know what number he's dialing first.
"Yeah," he said. "My dad's going to be excited."