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Kids take field at Angels' Pitch, Hit & Run event

MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- Two dozen baseball and softball players, ages 7-14, took the field at Angel Stadium on Saturday, most for the first time in their lives, as Scotts Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run event afforded them the opportunity to do so.

The day's festivities started with hacks at the tee, three apiece, which then progressed into a pitching competition. Competitors were given six pitches to hit the strike zone as many times as they could. The finale of the three-part tournament had the participants run from a makeshift second base to third, and then home.

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ANAHEIM -- Two dozen baseball and softball players, ages 7-14, took the field at Angel Stadium on Saturday, most for the first time in their lives, as Scotts Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run event afforded them the opportunity to do so.

The day's festivities started with hacks at the tee, three apiece, which then progressed into a pitching competition. Competitors were given six pitches to hit the strike zone as many times as they could. The finale of the three-part tournament had the participants run from a makeshift second base to third, and then home.

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Each competitor won a local qualifier to earn a spot in Saturday's tournament. The Top 3 players from each division are eligible to advance to the national finals, which will be held at Nationals Park during All-Star Week.

"The cool part about this is getting the experience of participating on a Major League baseball field, where the big leaguers play," said Bennett Mayfield, the Pitch, Hit & Run headquarters representative. "It's obviously very unique, and the kids seem to love it. But the parents seem to love it, as well. It's a great experience overall."

There were eight winners in total, one from each age group. Micayla Johnson-Byrd, the winner of the Softball 13/14 Division age group, said that the experience of being on a field where Major Leaguers play was her favorite part of the festivities.

"Adrenaline," Johnson-Byrd said. "I was definitely nervous and excited, seeing the stands, seeing everybody, how big it is."

Malakye Matsumoto, winner of the Baseball 9/10 Division age group, felt the same way -- that playing at Angel Stadium was the formative part of the program.

"It was such an incredible experience," Matsumoto said. "The grass was perfect, it was everything you would imagine."

The Pitch, Hit & Run tournament, which will take place at all 30 MLB parks in the coming weeks, is part of a 22-year program that features 650,000 participants per year. Among the big leaguers who have competed in the past are Eric Hosmer of the Padres, J.P. Crawford and Rhys Hoskins of the Phillies and Jakob Junis of the Royals.

For their efforts, the 24 competitors and their families received tickets to Saturday's Angels game against the Rangers.

Results:

Softball

7/8 Division: 1. Makayla Salcedo (Hacienda Heights, Calif.) 2. Verina Ramirez (Indio, Calif.) 3. McKenzie Francisco (Laguna Niguel, Calif.)

9/10 Division: 1. Sloan Lorenzo (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) 2. Abby Luis (Redondo Beach, Calif.) 3. Yasmine Lopez (Menifee, Calif.)

11/12 Division: 1. Kayden Connaty (Garden Grove, Calif.) 2. Keira Czochanski (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) 3. Kaylee Pitts (Ontario, Calif.)

13/14 Division: 1. Micayla Johnson-Byrd (Hemet, Calif.) 2. Anne-Marie Maden (Redondo Beach, Calif.) 3. Yasmin De La Rosa (Rosemead, Calif.)

Baseball

7/8 Division: 1. John Brande (Palm Desert, Calif.) 2. Maverick Medina (Chino Hills, Calif.) 3. Blake Ely (Torrance, Calif.)

9/10 Division: 1. Malakye Matsumoto (Los Angeles, Calif.) 2. Vaughn Sharp (Yorba Linda, Calif.) 3. Brendan Stahl (Highland, Calif.)

11/12 Division: 1. Jared Galang (Torrance, Calif.) 2. Carter Chi (Cerritos, Calif.) 3. Jonathan Van Ness (Yorba Linda, Calif.)

13/14 Division: 1. Olin Snakenborg (Torrance, Calif.) 2. Steven Gandara (Menifee, Calif.) 3. Nicholas Hernandez (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.)

Avery Yang is a reporter for MLB.com.

Los Angeles Angels