Phillies host Pitch, Hit and Run competition
Winners at each ballpark eligible for chance to compete at All-Star Game
PHILADELPHIA -- For all eight of Saturday's Philadelphia-based MLB Pitch, Hit and Run presented by Scotts winners, getting to play on and being honored on the field at Citizens Bank Park is an achievement hard to quantify with words.
But for one of the eight winners, 11-12-year-old boys' champion, Josh Nielsen, being able to be on the field was a culmination of the reason he fell in love with baseball.
When Nielsen was 6 years old, his uncle took him to a game at Citizens Bank Park where the Phillies were hosting the Cardinals. He had no interest in the game at that time, but after that he decided baseball was the sport he wanted to play. So, just hours after beating out his competition in the 11-12-year-old age group, Nielsen was honored on the field. His uncle was in attendance again. And the Phillies are playing the Cardinals again.
"Words can't describe this," he said.
In addition to Nielsen, seven other children were honored before the game. They were, from youngest to oldest, Amelia Atkins, Ty Kaunas, Maysen Fisher, Bronson Kilmer, Abby Tobelmann, Anastasia Rodites and Mike Gorman.
A majority of the winners picked the running portion of the event as their favorite part with two of the girls boasting their times. Atkins, the youngest of the female competitors, was able to complete the run in 9.82 seconds, while Rodites, the oldest, posted a time of 8.23 seconds.
Two of the eight, however, listed hitting as their favorite part and just one picked pitching as their passion. Though neither of the offensively-inclined winners boasted they were able to hit a ball over the Citizens Bank Park fence, they both were secure in the fact that they can hit home runs in parks engineered with dimensions more fitting of their age.
Tobelmann was one of the kids who favored hitting and one of the few who claimed she wasn't nervous to be out on the field where the big leaguers play since she had competed in this event a year ago.
"I'm used to it," she said.
The eight winners now await the scores from the other competitions to see whether or not they advance to the national finals in Cincinnati in advance of the All-Star Game in July. And though no individual kid was quick to predict themselves as the national favorite, they all used one word to describe their outlooks: confident.
As for Nielsen, the ability to play on the field where his childhood idols Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins made their home for so long was even cooler than winning. As happy as he was to win, just stepping on the field was the real prize.