Red Sox honor Pitch, Hit and Run winners
Children test baseball skills in regional competition at Fenway
BOSTON -- Smiling in the heat of a sunny Sunday morning, Ethan Betts pumped his fist and kissed the award he never expected to win: first place in Major League Baseball's Pitch, Hit & Run Presented by Scott competition held at Fenway Park.
Betts, a native of Narragansett, R.I., threw three of his six pitches for strikes and sped around third base during the baserunning portion of the contest before winning the 11-12-year-old boys group. Although he is a professed Pittsburgh Pirates fan, Betts showed some love for the Red Sox player that shares his last name -- center fielder Mookie Betts.
"I was probably expecting to come in second," Betts said. "I didn't really hit that well, and the kid before me did hit better than me. But I guess I hit more targets."
Winners of the girls' groups were Julia Osche of Charlton (7-8-year-olds), Kayla Goldrick of Attleboro (9-10), Kendall Ferris of Portsmouth, R.I., (11-12) and Riley Burgess of Swansea (13-14). The other first-place awards for the boys' divisions went to Jackson Marshall of Hooksett, N.H., (7-8), Alex Clemmey of Middletown, R.I., (9-10) and Luke Waranis of Narragansett (13-14).
The free event, sponsored by Scotts and now in its 19th year, has tested over 600,000 children in their baseball skills. The Red Sox honored the first-place winners during a ceremony before Sunday afternoon's game against the Blue Jays.
Ferris made the 64-mile trek from Portsmouth that morning with high hopes. A first-time participant, she really hit her stride once she got hold of a bat.
"I was kind of a little tired in the beginning, but once I finished the hitting, I was kind of relaxed," Ferris said.
The performance was fitting, considering her favorite player is Red Sox slugger David Ortiz.
"We always tell her, because she's a great hitter and she's not a fast runner, we said, 'You're almost like Papi,'" said her mother, Karen Ferris. "You have to have the hits to get the runs."
Betts, Ferris and the day's other winners learn on June 28 whether they have earned a spot in the national finals, which will be held during the All-Star Game festivities in Cincinnati. Participants with the top three scores in each age group across the 30 Team Championship competitions will qualify.
Whether her daughter advances or not, Karen Ferris was beaming with pride following the performance.
"I was crying," Karen Ferris said. "She worked very hard this week. We went to the field every day since we found out, and she worked on her hitting, her throwing, her running. I told her that no matter what happened today that she tried really hard and that it's a big accomplishment getting here. Very proud of her."