WASHINGTON -- Rece Hinds couldn't eat almost all day on Monday because he was so nervous about participating in front of a large crowd during the High School Home Run Derby at Nationals Park that night. Bobby Witt Jr., Hinds' competitor, said he was also anxious on Sunday night after qualifying for the championship round.
But those nerves subsided when Hinds and Witt arrived at the ballpark on Monday afternoon. By noticing how friendly and laid back the Major League All-Stars were, Hinds and Witt just focused on having a good time.
Witt hit eight home runs over 76 seconds in front of Major Leaguers and 43,698 fans to win the derby over Hinds, who knocked seven homers.
"It was surreal," Witt said. "I don't even have words to describe it."
Witt, the son of former MLB pitcher Bobby Witt, is among the leading candidates to be selected No. 1 overall in the 2019 Draft. The 18-year-old plays shortstop for Colleyville (Texas) Heritage High School.
Witt and Hinds were given 90 seconds to hit as many homers as they could, but Witt passed Hinds with about 14 seconds to spare.
Hinds is one of the top power hitters in the Class of 2019. The IMG Academy shortstop and LSU commit belted one home run 485 feet onto the concourse level, longer than any other blast on the night. Hinds, who didn't participate in last year's High School Home Run Derby due to a minor ankle injury, was briefly trending on Twitter, thanks to that homer. The 17-year-old said he sent a homer a similar distance during the competition's semifinal at Nationals Park on Sunday.
After Witt reached eight homers, Hinds sprayed water on him and embraced him with a hug at home plate. The teenagers, who played in the same summer league last year, competed against each other using metal bats after the first two matchups of the first round of MLB's T-Mobile Home Run Derby, won by the Nationals' Bryce Harper.
Witt and Hinds gained Monday's opportunity after delivering impressive performances in Sunday's opening round at Nationals Park, where they finished first and second, respectively, against six other competitors. Witt hit 26 homers in two rounds over the course of 4 1/2 minutes, while Hinds slammed 25.
"We're real close," Witt said. "He's a brother to me."
Some of Witt and Hinds' best experiences also came from meeting Major League players. Witt had dinner with Brewers left-handed relief ace Josh Hader. Hinds chatted with Harper, Alex Bregman and Francisco Lindor, and he hit pitches in the batting cages with Rhys Hoskins.
"They're acting like we're friends with them," Hinds said. "We're normal people and they're normal people. It's awesome."