ANAHEIM -- As the dirt diamond awaited them inside Angel Stadium on Saturday, 23 competitors aged 7-14 warmed up on the brick diamond outside, preparing to participate in the Team Championship round of Major League Baseball's Pitch, Hit and Run event, sponsored by Scott's.
Once the participants entered Angel Stadium, they were right at home, whipping balls back and forth in the outfield and jumping to rob home runs in center field. In the dugout, they placed their bats in the bat holders and stood on the top step, just as the Angels do.
"Wow, I've never seen a World Series ring before," one youngster said as an Angels employee flashed his 2002 championship ring.
The competitors, ages 7-14, were asked to pitch six balls into a strike zone 35 feet away for girls and 45 feet for boys before slugging off a tee for distance and sprinting 160 feet to home plate. The top three scorers nationally in each age group will be invited to Minneapolis for the All-Star Game, where they will compete for the title.
The winners were Sienna Vasquez (7-8 girls), Ann Buffolino (9-10), Alyssa Ochoa (11-12), Andrea Woods (13-14), Benjamin Burmeister (7-8 boys), Xander McConnell (9-10), Thomas McCaffery (11-12) and Jesus Zarazua (13-14).
Buffolino and Ochoa each impressed pitching by hitting the strike zone in five of six attempts while McCaffery showed off some power at the plate, smashing the longest hit of the day that nearly rolled to the warning track in center field.
The winners from each of the eight age groups will be honored before the Angels take on the White Sox on Saturday evening.
The 24 national finalists will also shag balls during the Home Run Derby at Target Field on July 14. The finalists will be announced June 29 on MLB Network.
The Pitch, Hit and Run event features 600,000 participants nationwide, competing in 4,100 local competitions. The 30 Team Championship rounds will conclude June 28.
Here are Saturday's results:
7-8-year-old Girls Age Division
Sienna Vasquez, Chino, Calif., 1st Sarah Perez, Whittier, Calif., 2nd Irina Lainez, Blythe, Calif., 3rd
9-10-year-old Girls Age Division
Ann Buffolino, Burbank, Calif., 1st Brielle Minor, Los Angeles, Calif., 2nd Samantha Woods, Trabuco Canyon, Calif., 3rd
11-12-year-old Girls Age Division
Alyssa Ochoa, Baldwin Park, Calif., 1st Sage Misley, Manhattan Beach, Calif., 2nd Eloi Vazquez, Orange, Calif., 3rd
13-14-year-old Girls Age Division
Andrea Woods, Trabuco Canyon, Calif., 1st Sydney Culpepper, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., 2nd
7-8-year-old Boys Age Division
Benjamin Burmeister, Manhattan Beach, Calif., 1st Noah Sandoval, Upland, Calif., 2nd Alex Mascaro, Orange, Calif., 3rd
9-10-year-old Boys Age Division
Xander McConnell, Inglewood, Calif., 1st Zachary Brown, Santa Ana, Calif., 2nd Trevian Tribble, Bloomington, Calif., 3rd
11-12-year-old Boys Age Division
Thomas McCaffery, Santa Monica, Calif., 1st Matthew Olivares, Orange, Calif., 2nd Ryan Durfree, Monrovia, Calif., 3rd
13-14-year-old Boys Age Division
Jesus Zarazua, Pasadena, Calif., 1st Michael Olivares, Orange, Calif., 2nd John Pfeffer, Riverside, Calif., 3rd
Matthew DeFranks is an associate reporter for MLB.com.