Twins host Pitch, Hit & Run at Target Field

Twins host Pitch, Hit & Run at Target Field

MINNEAPOLIS --Twenty-three young Twins fans from four states competed Saturday morning in a baseball & softball competition that has the potential to earn them a trip to this year's All-Star Game festivities.

Target Field played host to the team competition of the Scotts Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run program. Each of MLB's 30 clubs hosts a team portion, with the top 24 in the nation earning an all-expenses-paid trip to San Diego for the Midsummer Classic.

Saturday's event drew kids ages 7-14 from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa to compete in three skills competitions. The participants each got six pitches to try to throw as many strikes as possible. Next was hitting, where each player's three hits off a tee were measured for distance and accuracy. The best of those total distances was tallied.

Lastly, the running portion of the competition had each kid sprinting from second base to third base, then rounding toward home plate. The best combination of scores from each event was awarded a first-place plaque.

The winners of each division were honored Saturday on the field before the Twins hosed the Boston Red Sox. Though there were prizes on the line, the event was more about having fun at a big league ballpark and meeting new kids.

"It's a great experience going on the field," said 14-year-old Matt Nasseff of Shoreview, Minn. "I've had a really fun time competing in Pitch, Hit & Run. … It's nice to meet other athletes that come from a baseball background."

The softball division saw two repeat champions, as 10-year-old Claire Girkin of Ionia, Iowa, won the 9- and- 10-year-old softball division for the second straight year. Amy Worum, 14, from Underwood, Minn., also repeated in the 13- and 14-year-old softball division.

Both girls won last year's event in the rain, but had a perfectly sunny day Saturday to take first place once again.

"I couldn't believe that I made it," Girkin said. "It was fun."

Other winners at Saturday's competition included Elizabeth O'Malley (7-8 softball), Bira Holm (11-12 softball), Rylan Peters (7-8 baseball), Shawn Schmitz (9-10 baseball), Nick Geis (11-12 baseball) and Braden Thompson (13-14 baseball).

Approximately 4,500 organizations nationwide participated in the Pitch, Hit & Run event, with kids advancing to around 225 sectional events. Those winners continued to advance up to the team competition at each of the 30 MLB ballparks.

Each of the eight winners from Saturday's event at Target Field now must wait to see if they'll advance to the national finals during All-Star week in San Diego. That announcement will be made on MLB Network on June 27.

Throughout the competition Saturday, participants made new friends and enjoyed the chance to share the same field as the Twins players they've watched.

"I liked the atmosphere of the baseball stadium and coming out here to meet new kids," Nasseff said.

"The best part is the look on the kids' faces when they walk out onto a Major League field," said Matt Engleka, a Pitch, Hit & Run representative. "This program creates experiences that will last a lifetime."

Tyler Mason is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.