Norwin grad JJ Matijevic homers for first MLB hit

JJ Matijevic’s first major league hit was a home run. Because, of course it was.

The Houston Astros’ rookie power hitter, called up for the second time this season, launched a solo homer into the Crawford Boxes in left field at Minute Maid Park Sunday night for his first career hit with the Houston Astros.

Matijevic, a Norwin graduate, gave the Astros a 2-0 lead over the Chicago White Sox with the opposite-field blast.

The 26-year-old was recalled to the big leagues on June 15 to replace Jeremy Pena, who went on the 10-day injured list.

The lefty designated hitter came into the game 0 for 7 with five strikeouts before his big hit. He finished this game 1 for 4 as Houston won 4-3.

The milestone baseball looks like it will end up in his possession.

A 16-year-old Astros’ fan, Ryland Freeman, caught the home run ball and the team worked out a trade with him, offering a Justin Verlander signed jersey, six tickets to a game, six batting practice access sessions and a ball autographed by Jose Altuve in return for the baseball.

Matijevic said he also would give Freeman an autographed bat.

The blast was extra special to Matijevic’s father, Joe, a Jeannette fireman who could not have asked for a greater Father’s Day moment.

“It was pretty awesome. … I was going through the roof,” Joe Matjevic told Fox 26 Houston’s Mark Berman. “My neighbors probably think I’m crazy. All my friends are calling me. I got people coming over to the house. I wish I was (at the game). This is the best.”

JJ said he plans to give the ball to his dad.

JJ Matijevic’s first at-bat of the game also drew some attention when Astros’ hitting coach Alex Cintron was ejected for arguing a called third strike on Matijevic with runners on second and third and two outs.

Matijevic, who played at Arizona after winning the triple crown in the WPIAL at Norwin, has played in 39 games this season with the Triple-A Sugar Land Space Cowboys. He has 12 homers and 35 RBIs.

For his five-year minor league career, he has 76 homers.

The 75th pick of the 2017 MLB Draft came in hot, going 7 for his last 14 at-bats, with three doubles, two homers and four RBIs.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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