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Orioles host Pitch, Hit & Run championships

MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- The two dozen 7 to 14 year olds, now clad in their brand new green Pitch, Hit & Run T-shirts, needed a wake-up call.

"I could use a coffee," one of the young participants said jokingly on the elevator ride down to the field when a volunteer jovially asked how everyone was doing.

BALTIMORE -- The two dozen 7 to 14 year olds, now clad in their brand new green Pitch, Hit & Run T-shirts, needed a wake-up call.

"I could use a coffee," one of the young participants said jokingly on the elevator ride down to the field when a volunteer jovially asked how everyone was doing.

It was 8 a.m. ET, and just after each kid gave one last hug and kiss to mom and dad for good luck, they got mentally ready to live out their dream: Play on the field at Camden Yards. Just like their role models on the Orioles have long done, they stood in the bowels of the ballpark, waiting to see the diamond and let the nervousness wash away.

The Orioles hosted the annual Pitch, Hit & Run event Saturday morning, which featured the top 24 qualifiers from Maryland and Delaware -- boys and girls aged 7-14 -- who had put up the best scores in local competitions in the categories of hitting, pitching and speed on the basepaths.

Tweet from @Orioles: ������ @mlb���s Pitch, Hit & Run Team Championship at #OPACY this morning for top qualifiers from Delaware and Maryland. Winners will be recognized pregame tonight and are eligible to advance to Nationals during All-Star Week. #Birdland pic.twitter.com/2N6TwEkn9X

"You see the nerves at the beginning," Pitch, Hit & Run representative Bennett Mayfield said. "And obviously it's a morning competition, so they're still kind of waking up and that sort of thing. But usually after the first pitch or the first swing or whatever it is, they get out of that and get back in their zone."

Pitch, Hit & Run, the official youth skills competition of Major League Baseball, invites kids to demonstrate their pitching, hitting and running abilities in baseball and softball. The competition coincides with the "PLAY BALL" initiative between Major League Baseball, USA Baseball and USA Softball, which encourages widespread participation in all forms of baseball/softball activities among all age groups.

Saturday's winners included Abigail Trust (7-8 softball), Katlyn Judy (9-10 softball), Rileyann Curtis (11-12 softball), Madison Moon (13-14 softball), Deven West (7-8 baseball), Caden Fooks (9-10 baseball), Gavin McIntyre (11-12 baseball) and Kole Iddings (13-14 baseball).

Each winner of the Orioles' regional will have their results measured up against each group of 24 competitors from the other 29 ballparks. All are hoping for a chance to participate at the national competition during All-Star Weekend in Washington.

The 24 lucky competitors at Camden Yards on Saturday morning were part of over 45,000 local competitions held by volunteers across the U.S. and Canada, consisting of over 625,000 total participants.

A loud applause ensued when Mayfield announced the name of each winner to those in attendance, but the biggest applause of the day -- and it wasn't even close -- came during 13-14 softball competitor Tatyana Sanchez's turn to run the bases.

Sanchez slipped in the grass after rounding third but brushed herself off and got up to touch home to the roar of the family and friends in attendance.

It was one of several instances that got the families involved on the special day for the kids. Advice and tips came from the stands -- "Big hit, bigger smile!" one father exclaimed -- along with plenty of praise.

McIntyre, the winner of the 11-12 baseball group, sent a ball of the tee to deep center field, drawing the gasps of many parents watching on.

"If Adam Jones is hurt tonight, I think we have a replacement," one volunteer said.

Along with the potential of competing at All-Star Weekend, each winner will be honored before first pitch between the Orioles and Angels on Saturday. All participants were invited back to attend the game.

Zachary Silver is a reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore.

Baltimore Orioles