PHILADELPHIA -- Some had been there before and others were completely new to the competition. Experience level aside, Saturday morning at Citizens Bank Park was a special moment for everyone involved.
Three boys and three girls from each of four age divisions -- 7-8 year olds, 9-10 year olds, 11-12 year-olds and 13-14 year olds -- inhabited the visitors' dugout as they geared up for Major League Baseball's Pitch, Hit & Run competition presented by Scotts.
The winner of each age division is eligible to represent the Phillies and compete in the National Finals, which will take place during All-Star Game festivities at Target Field in Minneapolis from July 11-15.
"Everybody and anybody is welcome to participate in this program. It's free," said Amy Ashbrock, who ran the event and has been a part of Pitch, Hit & Run for 12 years. "It's a really fun event for the kids that also has a little bit of competitiveness to it."
Each participant had to advance through local competitions and sectional events to have the opportunity to compete at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday morning.
"Having the opportunity to make it to this level is unique, and it's difficult and it's special for them to be able to come out and play on this field," Ashbrock said. The day began with participants taking aim at a 17-by-30-inch target in the pitching competition. The hitting competition followed suit, with competitors taking three swings off a tee to show their prowess with a bat. The day concluded with a dash from first to third base.
"Jackson hyperventilated when he found out about the email that he was coming," said Jennifer Braddock, the mother of Jackson Braddock, who competed in the 9-10-year-old group. "This is amazing. He loves baseball, so this is big-time for him."
Jackson had never been to Citizens Bank Park, let alone stepped foot on the Phillies' home grass. There was a lot at stake in the competition, but for Jackson and many of his fellow competitors, that took a backseat to the chance to play on the same field as Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
"He's got to feel so great out there," Jennifer Braddock said.
But the day was special even for those who have participated in the event before. Saturday morning was 10-year-old Jacey Wittel's third go-round at the Pitch, Hit & Run competition in Philly, and just as memorable as her first time.
"Oh, it's still just as great the third time," Jacey's father, Jason, said. "She looks forward to it every year. We all do."
"The best part about this event is giving these kids the opportunity of a lifetime to come out on the field at Citizens Bank Park, where the Phillies play, where their heroes plays, where they hope to be one day as well," Ashbrock said. "So seeing those smiles on their faces and enjoying this opportunity is the best part."
Division First: Delaney Parker; Selinsgrove, Pa.
Second: Madison Wessel; Sewell, N.J.
Third: Jocelyn Fang; Yardley, Pa.
9-10 Girls Division
First: Abbey Tobelmann; Gap, Pa.
Second: Ava Rendon; Brick, N.J.
Third: Jacey Wittel; Stroudsburg, Pa.
11-12 Girls Division
First: Senta Johnson; Doylestown, Pa.
Second: Hailee Beaver; Dauphin, Pa.
Third: Meredith Prud'homme; West Allenhurst, N.J.
13-14 Girls Division
First: Kayley Klehamer; Somerdale, N.J.
Second: Anastasia Rodites; Gardners, Pa.
Third: Katie Karpinski; Mountaintop, Pa.
7-8 Boys Division
First: Alex Johnson; Philadelphia, Pa.
Second: Bryce Detwiler; Shillington, Pa.
Third: Matthew Juliano; Hamilton, N.J.
9-10 Boys Division
First: Jackson Braddock; West Creek, N.J.
Second: Gavin Corley; Sewell, N.J.
Third: P. Ethan Leen; Parkesburg, Pa.
11-12 Boys Division
First: Christian Melendez; Shippensburg, Pa.
Second: Jacob Klehamer; Somerdale, N.J.
Third: Dalton Reinhart; Lebanon, Pa.
13-14 Boys Division
First: Orry Walter; Middleburg, Pa.
Second: Michael Yates; Buck Hill Falls, Pa.
Third: Matthew McGuckin; Magnolia, N.J.
Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.