KANSAS CITY -- It's a long road to the Pitch, Hit and Run Kansas City championship, but for 8-year-old Joel Dutton from Elk City, Kan., it felt even longer.
Not only did Dutton have to make it through his local event and sectional like the other 24 kids, but his father, Tod, had to host the first round in Fredonia, Kan.
"We've gone to other places to do the Pitch, Hit and Run and we didn't have it in our town where I teach and they go to school, so I was the one that put it on this year," Tod Dutton said. "It was raining and nasty, but we had more than 20 kids come."
The Duttons have a field set up in a pasture that used to hold horses. Tod Dutton built a backstop out of a metal A-frame, a couple steel posts and a tarp so that when Joel and his brother, John, pitch to each other, the ball doesn't go flying off in the Kansas wind. They call it the "Field of Dreams."
Tod Dutton is a special education teacher at the local high school where he is also hoping to start a baseball program so his kids can continue to play as they grow up. The school's board of education will decide on having a program on Monday.
Dutton finished second in the 7-8-year-old Boys Age Division and won't be moving on, but the family might be leaving with something even better. They are now exploring options to obtain equipment for the high school team through Royals broadcaster Ryan LeFebvre's Gloves for Kids program.
For now, just seeing his son out on the field is good enough for Dutton.
"It gave us goosebumps, this is awesome," he said. "I've been coming here since 1975 or 1976 to Royals games and to see my son actually go out there and play catch in the outfield, I've still got goosebumps."
Joel Dutton said he hopes to come back to Kauffman Stadium and play for the Royals some day.
All 30 MLB ballparks will host a regional championship and determine the first-place finishers in each age group for the boys and girls. The scores are then compared to national results and the top three scorers in each group will move on to compete during Major League Baseball's All-Star Week.
Jordan Carlson, an Oak Grove, Kan. native, advanced to the finals and got to catch balls at the Home Run Derby in Kansas City last year. At this year's regional championship, Carlson picked up where she left off by winning the 13-14-year-old Girls Age Division.
Carlson is an avid softball player and big fan of the Royals, so being able to come out and compete at Kauffman Stadium was especially exciting.
"It's pretty awesome, because I get to compete on the same field as the big leaguers do," Carlson said.
The Kansas City participants and their families received tickets to the Royals' game Saturday night and the winners from each age group were recognized on the field before the game.
Saturday's final rankings for each division:
7-8-year-old Girls Age Division
Sophie Palmer, Columbus, Neb., first
Brooklyn Jones, Lebo, Kan., second
Kayla Kemple, Bates City, Mo., third
9-10-year-old Girls Age Division
Olivia King, Kansas City, Mo., first
Kenady Poyner, Ft. Scott, Kan., second
Elizabeth Martin, Aurora, Mo., third
11-12-year-old Girls Age Division
Kaley Howes, Overland Park, Kan., first
Lauren Carlson, Council Grove, Kan., second
Alexa Williams, Lincoln, Neb., third
13-14-year-old Girls Age Division
Jordan Carlson, Counciil Grove, Kan., first
Maria Ortiz, Kansas City, Mo., second
Shelby Ellingworth, Aurora, Mo., third
7-8-year-old Boys Age Division
Nolan Freund, Cunningham, Kan., first
Joel Dutton, Elk City, Kan., second
Hayden Frank, Daykin, Neb. third
9-10-year-old Boys Age Division
Chase Jans, Overland Park, Kan., first
Hogan Schmitt, Grain Valley, Mo., second
Caison Hartloff, Blue Rapids, Kan. third
Dalton Freund, Cunningham, Kan. fourth
11-12-year-old Boys Age Division
Tyler Palmer, Columbus, Neb., first
Taylor Brown, Roeland Park, Kan., second
Garrin Massey, Buckner, Mo., third
13-14-year-old Boys Age Division
Ricky Hockett, Plainville, Kan., first
Patrick Ondrak, Fairbury, Neb., second
Josue Carrasco, Kansas City, Mo., third
Kathleen Gier is an associate reporter for MLB.com.