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Petco Park hosts Pitch, Hit & Run competition

MLB.com

Zach Issacman is no stranger to the Scotts Pitch, Hit and Run event, but he did have some unfinished business to take care of during Saturday's Team Competition at Petco Park.

Isaacman, 14, has participated in the competition since he was seven years old, and even won the 11-12 age division during the Team Competition in 2016. After finishing as a runner-up in 2017, Issacman joined 21 other participants from Southern California and Nevada in hopes of reclaiming the title. He succeeded, as he took home first-place honors in the 13-14 age division.

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Zach Issacman is no stranger to the Scotts Pitch, Hit and Run event, but he did have some unfinished business to take care of during Saturday's Team Competition at Petco Park.

Isaacman, 14, has participated in the competition since he was seven years old, and even won the 11-12 age division during the Team Competition in 2016. After finishing as a runner-up in 2017, Issacman joined 21 other participants from Southern California and Nevada in hopes of reclaiming the title. He succeeded, as he took home first-place honors in the 13-14 age division.

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Although Issacman is a regular participant -- he's reached the regional event the last three years in a row -- the San Diego native noted that competition is still "very fun to compete in."

"It's really cool to play on the field and compete on the field," he said.

The Pitch, Hit and Run tournament, now in it's 22nd year, encourages baseball and softball players ages 7-14 to demonstrate their skills, while competing in pitching, hitting and running drills in their respective sport. To reach the Team Competition, which is held by all 30 MLB clubs, participants must advance through two prior events at the local and sectional levels.

"My favorite part about these competitions is that there's so many kids that come out [who] have never been to a Major League Baseball game and definitely have never been on the field," said Kelly P. Kelly, a coordinator for the event. "The excitement that you can see from that experience of the first time, being able to be on the field, that definitely makes it worth it."

Other notable winners included AJ Curry (9-10 division), who won his age group for the third consecutive year; and Mya Bartlett (11-12 division), who advanced to the National Finals last year at Marlins Park in Miami.

Participants showcased their abilities in three fundamental drills. First, they were timed running two bases, or 120 feet. For the hitting portion, participants hit either softballs or baseballs off a tee, with the distance being measured from where the ball first landed. Finally, participants attempted to hit a target as many times as they could in six attempts from either 35 feet (softball) or 45 feet (baseball).

Even for those who didn't win, it was still a day they were thrilled to experience.

"I think it's fun that you get to meet people from other places and that you get to play with them," said Aiyana Curry, who finished in second place in the age 13-14 softball division.

Ayana has participated in the competition with her little brother, AJ, for the past few years.

"We practice together for this. It's like our own competition," she said.

The top competitors nationwide from each age group (7-8, 9-10, 11-12 and 13-14) will advance to the National Finals at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., during All-Star Week. The finalists will be announced July 2 on MLB Network.

First-place finishers

Softball Division
Jordyn Jerotz - Encinitas, Calif. (7-8)
Lyndsay Rogers - San Marcos, Calif. (9-10)
Mya Bartlett - Las Vegas, Nev. (11-12)
Jill Halas - Las Vegas, Nev. (13-14)

Baseball Division
Cole Miller - San Diego, Calif. (7-8)
AJ Curry - San Diego, Calif. (9-10)
Tristen Valenzuela - Oceanside, Calif. (11-12)
Zach Isaacman - San Diego, Calif. (13-14)

Katie Woo covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @katiejwoo.

San Diego Padres