Youngsters line up for Pitch, Hit & Run
Minnesota area kids take part in national skills competition
MINNEAPOLIS -- For Dougie Parks, all the hours spent preparing for this year's Pitch, Hit & Run event resulted in a pretty nice Father's Day present for his dad, Doug.The 13-year-old Parks won the 13-to-14-year-old division at the event's Team Championship on Sunday at the Metrodome, moving one step closer to the national finals in St. Louis during All-Star weekend. "That's an exciting Father's Day present, to see him win," the elder Parks said. "It feels cool," said Dougie, of Apple Valley, Minn. "It's cool to come down here and win." Of course, winning this stage of the event is nothing new for Parks, who won last year while competing in the 11-to-12-year-old division. "You don't want to say you expect it, but he does excel at this competition," Doug said. "But [I'm] still chewing on the nails and anxious to see how each competition goes, because we've been working on this for months. Endless hours we've put into this preparation. It's an exciting time." Parks was just one of 16 contestants taking part in Sunday's competition. Already having advanced past the local and sectional rounds, the kids from Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota earned a trip to the Metrodome for the Team Championship. The contest consisted of three events. Each participant was first given six pitches to hit a strike zone. Next, they took three swings off a tee, going for both distance and accuracy. Finally, participants showed off their speed, running from second base and around third to home. For 12-year-old Jacob Anderson, the final event was his favorite. "I'm really good at running," said Anderson, from Hastings, Minn. "It's just something I really like to do." As a catcher and a shortstop, Anderson's selection for his favorite Twins players seems logical. "Nick Punto plays shortstop like I do," Anderson said. "Joe [Mauer] plays catcher, which I like to play."
For 8-year-old Jared Brainard of Ada, Minn., the chance to step into the same batter's box as his favorite player was a memorable one.Who might that player be? "Mauer, because he's very good. I like him," said Brainard, who won the 7-to-8-year-old division.
Chase Kortan won the 9-to-10-year-old division, and Tyson Jenkins was the winner among 11- and 12-year-olds.All 16 participants received a plaque after the competition and were honored on the field before Minnesota's game against Houston. "We come down, get a nice hat and jersey, and get on the field with the boys, get a Twins game out of the deal," Doug Parks said. "Just a fun day at the ballpark." And after the competition, Dougie Parks waited outside the Dome before the game, hoping to snag an autograph from Mauer, someone the hard-hitting Parks emulates his game after. "I like Mauer, but he's a lefty, I'm a righty," he said. With one more year of eligibility for the competition and two victories already under his belt, will Parks be back next year to defend his title? Said Parks: "Oh yeah."
Tyler Mason is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.