SAN DIEGO -- The parents in the stands could barely hold back their proud smiles as they snapped photos and recorded videos while their children competed in the Pitch, Hit & Run competition at Petco Park on Saturday morning. It's the 17th year Major League Baseball has run a youth skills program, and all 30 teams will host team championships at their ballparks on weekends from June 1-June 30.
Children ranged from ages 7-14 and some were more excited to pitch, such as 13-year-old Tyler Daraban, who was experiencing the event for the first time. The pitching competition judged a child's ability to throw six pitches toward a strike zone and how many they could land for strikes.
"This is incredible," Daraban said. "I like being out here. It's a lot of fun."
David Baer (13) was more enthusiastic to get a chance to hit, as each child took three swings off a tee and was judged on how far the ball traveled.
Kaylee Hull (12) couldn't wait to run, as each child ran a timed sprint to see who was the fastest.
"It's a great event for kids to be able to participate in," event organizer Abby Lane said. "Kids are able to compete in their local community and have the opportunity to get to a Major League stadium. For some, this is their first time ever being inside of a Major League ballpark and stepping onto the field, so it creates a very special experience."
The eight winners from each age group for the Padres included: ages 7 and 8 Marissa Gaut (San Diego) and Colton Paxton (Valley Center, Calif.); ages 9 and 10 Paige Sinicki (Henderson, Nev.) and Jordan Reed (Imperial, Calif.); ages 11 and 12 Adriana Thomason (Las Vegas) and Jaiden Correa (San Diego); ages 13 and 14 Katelyn Krzywiec (Oceanside, Calif.) and Baer (Rancho Bernardo, Calif.).
If competitors' scores are among the top three in their age group, they will advance to the 2013 Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run National Final during MLB All-Star Week at Citi Field in New York on July 15. And even get a chance to catch fly balls in the outfield during the 2013 Home Run Derby.
Some of the past participants in this event have ended up in playing in the Major Leagues, including Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, who is a former national finalist.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less