CLEVELAND -- Saturday morning's forecast called for rain, but there was still a fun time be had at the local team championship round of the Scotts Pitch, Hit and Run competition at Progressive Field.Twenty-four children ages 7-14 competed in skills activities and collected points for their respective age groups. The
CLEVELAND -- Saturday morning's forecast called for rain, but there was still a fun time be had at the local team championship round of the Scotts Pitch, Hit and Run competition at Progressive Field.
Twenty-four children ages 7-14 competed in skills activities and collected points for their respective age groups. The winner for each age group advanced with hopes of competing in the Pitch, Hit and Run National Finals, held during MLB All-Star Week in Washington D.C.
The program, in its 22nd year, allows kids to demonstrate their skills by competing in pitching, hitting and running events, and is free for all hosts and participants. It's part of the Play Ball initiative between Major League Baseball and USA Baseball, which seeks to promote participation in baseball activities among the country's youth.
"It starts at the local level: Little League, parks and rec departments, Boys and Girls Clubs," said David Koehnen, Pinch, Hit and Run event coordinator. "The winners of those rounds go to the second round, and the winners of the second round come here."
Only one winner was selected from each age group, but many of the participants left with new friends.
"You make friends with all the people here," said Holden Osborne, the 12-year-old baseball-division winner from Clintonville, Ohio. "But you also know you have to face them, and try and beat them in the competition."
The youngsters were also recognized during a pregame ceremony before the Indians game against the Tigers. Saturday's winners will be ranked nationally, and also advanced to the the Scotts MLB Pitch, Hit and Run national finals.
"It was fun, and overall a pretty good experience," said Chase Harper, the 14-year-old baseball-division winner from Port Washington, Ohio. "We come so far just to play on a Major League field, and if you're wanting to go further with your baseball career, hopefully you're playing here again. You try to look back at the memories, and know it was a fun experience."
The participants who made it to Progressive Field on Saturday won at their local and sectional competitions -- with approximately 650,000 children across the country competing annually.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance for a lot of the kids," Koehnen said. "You could see it on their faces today. They were happy and thrilled to be here."
7/8 Softball Division
Winner: Alyssa Toler
9/10 Softball Division
Winner: Madeline Roark
11/12 Softball Division
Winner: Amanda Hickey
13/14 Softball Division
Winner: Maya Sheller
7/8 Baseball Division
Winner: Brysen Hall
9/10 Baseball Division
Winner: Montgomery Hart
11/12 Baseball Division
Winner: Holdon Osborne
13/14 Baseball Division
Winner: Chase Harper
Casey Harrison is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.