PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Tim Tebow seems to have found his stroke since getting back to his home state.
Tebow hit the first game-ending home run of his pro baseball career Thursday night, lifting the Class A St. Lucie Mets over the Daytona Tortugas 5-4 in a seven-inning game.
The former NFL quarterback went deep with one out against Cincinnati Reds farmhand Austin Orewiler, smacking a first-pitch fastball over the fence in left field. Tebow was doused with Gatorade and mobbed by teammates when he reached home plate.
“It was fun to celebrate with all the guys,” Tebow said.
The 29-year-old Tebow said it was his first walk-off homer since his junior year at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach, near Jacksonville. The former Florida quarterback did not play his senior year in order to focus on football.
“(The high school homer) was for the district championship. That felt pretty good, but this one was special,” Tebow said.
It’s his third home run in 16 Florida State League games following a promotion from Class A Columbia, and his sixth home run in 80 games overall in his first season as a minor leaguer.
Tebow has hit safely in 11 straight games and is batting .327 with 10 RBIs with St. Lucie. All three of his home runs with the Mets have gone to the opposite field.
“The goal is just to stay behind as many balls as I can. See it, let it get deep. When you stay behind it, it goes the other way,” he said.
Tebow’s high shot cleared the fence about 20 feet inside the foul pole, thrilling the 2,667 fans — many of whom arrived early to see the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner in action.
The victory capped a doubleheader sweep for the Mets. Minor league teams commonly play two seven-inning games during doubleheaders.