BALTIMORE -- Two dozen kids, ages 7-14, showed off their skills Saturday morning at Camden Yards in the Orioles Championship of the 2013 Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run (PHR) program presented by Scotts. The winners from each division were brought back to the field as part of a special pregame ceremony before the Orioles-Yankees game.
"It's on the field and you get to actually see where the players would be and all that stuff," 13-14-year-old boys division winner Ryan Jordan said. "It's exciting. Hopefully I'll be there one day."
The top three scores in each age and gender group out of all 30 MLB club championships will be decided Sunday, and will advance to the National Finals held at Citi Field in New York City during MLB All-Star Week.
The other winners from Saturday's event were Bay Rothermel (7-8 year-old girls division), Allison Braatz (9-10 girls), Jordyn Difava (11-12 girls), Gabrielle Jarvis (13-14 girls), Ben Berger (7-8 boys), Aiden Sanchez (9-10 boys) and Jack Bulger (11-12 boys).
"With the thought of them competing, it's like a hope and a dream," event organizer Matt Engleka said. "It's a great opportunity and a huge achievement for all these kids.
"Any time a kid can walk out onto a Major League field, it connects them with their heroes and idols and that's a rewarding aspect," Engleka said. "[Saturday] they were standing right where the Yankees and Orioles stand, and that is a surreal moment."
The program is the "Official Youth Skills Competition of Major League Baseball" with more than 600,000 kids participating across North America in 2013 in girls softball and boys baseball divisions. PHR provides youth with the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and advance through four levels of competition, beginning at the local level. More than 4,000 local competitions take place each year, hosted by organizations, leagues, or volunteers within a community.
This is the final weekend for teams to host championships, and the Orioles were one of the final teams on the schedule. This is the 17th year MLB has run a youth skills program. Visit www.MLB.com/PHR for more information.
Derek Wetmore is an associate reporter for MLB.com.. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.