DENVER -- Thirteen-year-old Ethan Miller took home the first-place plaque for his age group in Major League Baseball's Pitch, Hit & Run event, sponsored by Scotts, at Coors Field on Saturday, thanks to a five-tool performance. But where he received his highest marks was in the sportsmanship department.
After the hitting portion of the challenge, one of the Miller's fellow competitors sat alone in frustration at the end of the Rockies' visiting dugout. Following his at-bat, Miller, who goes by "Q," bounded down the dugout steps, not even setting his bat down, as he made a beeline to console the other youngster.
"I had to," said Miller. "I didn't want him to have a bad day."
Miller didn't look at his peer as competition, but rather a new teammate. Miller, a native of Centennial, Colo., reminded him everything would be alright before adding how fortunate they were just to be on a Major League field; the same field his father, R.J, has been bringing him to since he was just 4.
"It was nice to see him in that environment, because he has aspirations of being a professional ballplayer at some point," said R.J. Miller.
Miller was one of 24 kids, ages 7 to 14, living out their dreams by competing for a chance to advance to the Pitch, Hit & Run National Finals during All-Star Week on July 14 at Target Field in Minneapolis.
The 12 boys and 12 girls from Colorado, Utah, Nebraska, Wyoming and South Dakota earned the opportunity to represent their regions by coming out on top in the two qualifying rounds for their age groups.
With their families eagerly watching from the first eight rows behind the third-base line, the finalists began by testing their command on a strike-zone target. They followed up with a batting-distance challenge that allowed each competitor three swings off a tee.
After spraying line drives, the Pitch, Hit & Run contestants finished up by having their baserunning skills measured with a timed run from second to home.
The eight first-place finishers will be honored on the field before Saturday's game against the Brewers. Once all the excitement dies down, they'll be waiting to find out if their results are good enough to finish in the top three in their age group out of all 30 MLB Pitch, Hit & Run championship round competitions.
The qualifiers from around the country will be announced on MLB Network on June 29.
Cody Ulm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less