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Reds celebrate HR ball-catching fan

CINCINNATI (AP) — The college student who got national attention for catching two home run balls is back in the spotlight at Great American Ball Park.

The Cincinnati Reds made 20-year-old Caleb Lloyd an honorary captain on Tuesday for the second game of their series against the Atlanta Braves. He and coach Billy Hatcher took out the lineup card, giving Lloyd a chance to tell his story to the umpiring crew.

The videoboard identified him as a “Professional Home Run Ball Catcher.”

Lloyd was in the left field stands on Monday night when Reds pitcher Mike Leake and shortstop Zack Cozart hit back-to-back homers that he caught. Lloyd, a junior at Thomas More College, gave the first ball to Leake as a keepsake and got several autographed items from the pitcher.

Lloyd had never caught a ball at a game.

“It hit my hand,” he said. “I didn’t expect to actually catch it. I never actually caught a home run ball. It hurt really bad.”

Three pitches later, shortstop Zack Cozart hit another one to the same area. The ball bounced right to Lloyd, who had one free hand.

“The second one bounced behind me and bounced right into my lap,” he said. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s just crazy!’ I couldn’t believe my eyes. Right now, I still can’t believe it’s happening.”

He gave the second home run ball to the friend who had convinced him to go to the game and provided the tickets. Knowing it was Leake’s first career homer, Lloyd saved that ball and offered it to the pitcher for an autograph after the game.

“I just wanted to meet him,” Lloyd said, standing outside the clubhouse.

The Reds beat the Atlanta Braves 4-1.