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Wilhelm Goes Yard In Home Run Challenge

Omaha, NE - Matt Wilhelm (Wabash, IN/Southwood) took a pitch out of Rosenblatt Stadium on Thursday evening, but was not able to advance in the Rawlings Home Run Challenge. T.J. Soto of Louisiana Tech was the winner of the Home Run Challenge.

Wilhelm, in his final appearance in a Wabash College baseball uniform, launched an opposite-field shot into the right field stands as part of the opening ceremonies for the NCAA Division I College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. Wilhelm was invited, along with Marian College of Wiscosin’s Jason Bischoff, to represent Division III in the first-time event. Wilhelm was one of eight players selected nationally to compete, with the winner to receive a Compaq personal computer, a 4-day, 3-night trip for two, courtesy of Continental Airlines and Marriott Hotels, and the equivalent of a two-year Rawlings minor-league apparel and equipment contract. Wabash College also receives a $1,000 scholarship from Rawlings.

“This has been an unbelievable experience,” said Wilhelm. “I was a little nervous sitting in the dougout with Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson and looking at a crowd of over 5,000 people getting ready to watch me hit. Once I got to the plate, though, I tuned everything else out and just concentrated on the baseball.”

Wilhelm had ten chances to hit a home run in the competition. Wilhelm hit several solid line drives that would have been hits in a game, but fell for outs in the competition. With eight outs, he took an outside pitch toward the right field wall. It cleared by 15 feet, landing in the stands near the light standard.

“I was so relieved when I saw it clear the fence,” said Wilhelm. “But even if I hadn’t, this has been such a great experience. It’s been an honor to spend two days with players who could someday be a Hall of Famer or play on a World Series champion team. It’s also been a lot of fun just hitting and practicing in a facility like Rosenblatt Stadium. I’m honored that I could represent Wabash College at this event and show other young players the type of opportunities that are available playing baseball there.”

Wilhelm finished his career as the all-time leader in home runs at Wabash with 23. He was selected to participate in the competition based on his performance this season at the plate, hitting 11 home runs in 36 games. His 11 homers set a single-season record for Wabash as well.