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April 10, 2017

Phillies' Stassi rips ninth-inning home run for first major league hit

When he stepped to the plate for the first time on Monday, a week after realizing his boyhood dream and capping a wild five days when he became a viral video star, Brock Stassi had a chance to put the Mets away.

Stassi, in his second start of the young season, dug into the batter’s box to face New York right-hander Jacob deGrom with the bases loaded, one out, and two runs already in during the first inning. Perhaps the Phillies wouldn’t score a dozen runs in their first at-bat again, but at least they could get a series against another division foe off to a strong start with another big first inning.

Stassi bounced a ball back to deGrom, however, setting up an inning-ending 1-2-3 double play. No, he wouldn’t join Chase Utley in club history as someone with a grand slam for their first big league hit.

Eight innings later, in his last at-bat of the night and still searching for that first hit of his fledgling big league career, Stassi ripped a 2-2 pitch from Addison Reed and sent it over the fence in dead center for a solo home run.

The Phillies came up one run short in a 4-3 loss the Mets – a game that became heated in the final innings – but at least Stassi collected his first hit after 10 plate appearances without one entering the ninth.

“It was a relief,” said Stassi, who started at first base in place of Tommy Joseph on Monday. “I’ve been trying to do too much the past couple days. Pulling off of stuff and swinging at pitches I don’t normally. Trying to hit the ball out of the stadium. It’s a relief to get that one out of the way.”

Stassi had a traveling party of nearly two dozen during the first week of the season in Cincinnati and then over the weekend. Thankfully, his parents and one of his young brothers were still in town on Monday night.

Stassi was greeted by an exuberant Odubel Herrera and mobbed by the rest of his teammate upon returning to the dugout.

"I was happy for him," manager Pete Mackanin said. "I wish there were two men on base when he hit it and we won the game."

“That was awesome just to get it out of the way,” Stassi said. “It’s been a long week and a half without even a half without even a hit. It’s a relief for sure. Now I can get back to doing what I do.”

And that first inning at-bat against deGrom?

“I’ve never seen deGrom before and he threw me a pretty good change-up,” Stassi said. “It would’ve been nice to do that in the first for sure and blow this thing open. But I’m just happy I didn’t get too down on myself throughout the game and was able to put together a good one at the end even though we fell short. Hopefully, we’ll get it going tomorrow.”

The 27-year-old Stassi, a former 33-round pick, made the Phillies roster out of spring training after hitting .306 with a 1.013 OPS in 25 exhibition games. He hit six home runs this spring, tying Maikel Franco for the team lead. 

Stassi is the first Phillies player to homer for his first big-league hit since Darnell Sweeney (Aug. 22, 2015). 

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