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Pitch, Hit & Run champs honored

Pitch, Hit & Run champs honored

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SAN FRANCISCO -- The 2007 winners were crowned in the Pepsi Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run (PHR) National Finals on Monday at AT&T Park as part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day. A winner was named four different age divisions.

The first-place finishers received trophies from MLB President and COO Bob DuPuy in an on-field ceremony during the State Farm Home Run Derby.

Taking first place in each division were Jeron Petterson from Brush, Colo., in the 7/8-year-old division; Tristan Pompey from Mississauga, Ontario, in the 9/10-year-old division; Raymond Wiliams III from Waukegan, Ill., in the 11/12-year-old division and Blake Whitehead from Round Rock, Texas, in the 13/14-year-old division.

Williams set a new record in the Hit portion of the competition, with his shot of 283 feet into the outfield. He broke the previous record of 275 feet, which was set by former Pitch, Hit & Run champ Kyle Carter.

Whitehead's time of 6.83 seconds in the second base to home plate Run segment came close to beating the 2007 season record of 6.71 seconds.

In addition to Petterson, the other national finalists in the 7/8-year-old division included Chas Sagedahl from Prairie du Chien, Wis., Darren Jansen from Fresno, Calif., and Tyson Williams, from Dothan, Ala.

Petterson said it was "exciting and fun" to play in a Major League ballpark for the National Finals.

He said his favorite parts of the week were "sitting in the dugout and playing on the field...[and] shagging balls at the Home Run Derby."

With Pompey in the 9/10-year-old division were Michael DeCosta from Warren, R.I., Michael Durkin from Aurora, Ohio, and Malik Malone from Belton, Texas.

This year was Pompey's first experience in the PHR program.

"It was pretty cool ... there's a time to socialize with others and then there's a time to really focus on what you're doing [in the competition]," said Pompey. "I learned how to cooperate with others and have fun."

Joining Williams in the 11/12-year-old division were Nathaniel Palace from Ventura, Calif., Mason Murray from Harrisburg, Mo., and Christopher Hohlstein from Columbus, Ga.

Williams also participated in the Detroit National Finals two years ago. He said he has enjoyed meeting the other PHR national finalists.

"I liked the friends you make during [the events], you make a lot of friends when you're doing it," Williams said.

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Along with Whitehead in the 13/14-year-old division were Steven Phipps from Clintwood, Va., Zachary Vera-Burgos from Garden City, Mich., and Keaton Frey from Los Angeles.

Whitehead participated in the National Finals in Detroit two years ago as well. He said he was glad to return to the competition.

"It was fun, I did a lot better than I thought I would," said Whitehead. "I was a little nervous, but I ended up doing pretty good ... I hit five out of six pitches."

PHR is the official youth skills competition of MLB and is a grassroots program that provides youth across North America with an integrated competition that recognizes individual excellence in core baseball skills.

In the Pitch portion, the kids try to throw strikes by taking a shot at hitting the MLB Strike Zone. In the Hit portion, the kids swing away from home plate and they're judged on distance and accuracy. In the Run portion, the kids start at second and head for home to test their speed at running the bases.

PHR is a free program for boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 14. This year's PHR program had more than 600,000 participants through more than 3,900 local competitions.

The program features local, sectional and team championship competitions, culminating at the National Finals. The top four competitors throughout North America from each of the four divisions advanced to the National Finals.

The 16 national finalists participated in a variety of events and activities throughout All-Star Week as special guests of MLB. They went to the DHL All-Star FanFest, attended the Home Run Derby, Futures Game and Celebrity Softball Game and will go to the 78th All-Star Game on Tuesday.

Christie Cowles is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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