"They did fantastic," Pitch, Hit & Run representative Matt Engleka said. "This program is designed to put a bat and ball in kids' hands and give them a positive first experience with baseball. It's great to stand at home plate and run the bases just like their heroes."
This is the 17th year of the Pitch, Hit & Run program, which has 600,000 participants annually at the local level. Top finishers from each age and gender division of the team championships, hosted by all 30 Major League ballclubs, will advance to the finals during the 2015 All-Star Weekend. Finalists get to shag fly balls at the Home Run Derby and attend the All-Star Game.
Saturday morning's competition took place on the diamond at Angel Stadium, beginning with the pitching portion. The goal in this event was to throw six strikes against a green paper zone zip-tied to a large square net. The first pitch of the day missed the net around the strike zone entirely, and no one threw six strikes. But 11-12 Year Old Girls Division winner Evelyn Lorch -- who tries to copy her favorite player, Mike Trout, "by hitting as good as him" -- came closest, with five.
"This is my third time doing Pitch, Hit & Run at Angel Stadium," she said. "The other ones were kind of iffy. This was the best one."
The hitting was next, off a tee set up over home plate. The running came last, with sprints around the bases from second to home plate.
"It was great being on the field and in the dugout," said 9-10 Year Old Boys Division winner Cole Geller, a Dodgers fan playing on rival turf.
Geller said he tried pitching like Clayton Kershaw in Little League, but it didn't work out, so he started doing his own thing. That worked on Saturday.
At the end, all participants received a plaque. And, of course, the day wouldn't have been complete without a staffer breaking out a selfie stick for a group photo of the contestants.
As Engleka said, they were all champions.
Girls: Lorch, Melanie Platon, Delainey Jorgenson, Taylor Geller, Carissa Moll, Louisa Pruitt, Katalina Alba, Melissa Hernandez, Valeria Root, Trinity Lopez, Ruby Jean Manzo and Karina Simmers
Boys: Geller, Ryland Duson, Gavin Marquez, Gavin Malmberg, Zachary Brown, Rene Smith, Aedan Anderson, Parker Pund, Isaac Phe, Nathan Romano, Kobi McCracken and Christian Culpepper.