Ship Bottom Teen Jackson Braddock Wins Pitch, Hit & Run Competition at Citi Field

Jun 28, 2017
Courtesy of: David Hartman Ship Bottom's Jackson Braddock, celebrating with mom Jen Braddock, won the Pitch, Hit & Run team championship at Citi Field in New York on June 18.

Come Monday evening, Jackson Braddock sat in front of the TV, his eyes glued to the MLB Network and his ears waiting to hear whether he was headed for Miami. The Ship Bottom 13-year-old was an announcement away from achieving a goal he’s been working toward for six years.

“I started when I was 8 and I didn’t do too well the first time,” said Jackson, who on June 18 took first place in the annual Pitch, Hit & Run “team” competition at Citi Field in New York, home to his favorite Major League Baseball team, the Mets. “We saw the competition advertised on TV and I signed up, but I only made it as far as the sectional that year. I didn’t make it to a stadium until I was 11.”

MLB’s official skills competition for boys and girls ages 7 to 14, this year’s Pitch, Hit & Run competition had some 650,000 youngsters in both the baseball and softball divisions, which are made up of four age groups – 7/8, 9/10, 11/12 and 13/14. The competition is broken down into four stages: local, sectional, team championships and national finals; the last stage is held during MLB’s All-Star Week.

Each competitive stage provides the participants an opportunity to throw six pitches at a target, hit three balls off a tee, for accuracy and distance, and make a 180-foot run from second base to home plate.

“For the hitting part, you have to try to hit the ball as close to the line in center field as possible, while hitting it for distance,” said Jackson, who cruised through the local competition in Barnegat in May, before taking his age group’s top spot during the sectional competition in Robbinsville several weeks later. “At the sectional, I hit the line 260 feet away.”

With two wins in the bag, it was on to the team championships, in which all 30 Major League franchises host the “regional” competition in their ballparks. Jackson won again, logging a blistering 7.64-second run from second to home, which carried with it bonus points for running the basepaths in less than 8.5 seconds.

“I practiced a lot more this year,” said Jackson, who played shortstop and pitched a bit for the Southern Regional Middle School team this spring and also plays for one of the Frazier Sox travel squads out of Toms River. “I did a lot of running to get myself faster, and I had a really good turn at third base in the team championship.”

To reach the finals, held in Miami as part of All-Star Week this year, the top three competitors from the 30 team championships were selected based on their cumulative scores. The finalists, slated to compete on-field prior to shagging fly balls during the annual Home Run Derby, were announced on MLB Network June 26.

Jackson didn’t reach the finals, falling short behind Olin Snakenborg of Torrance, Calif., Gage Gillott of Connellsville, Pa., and Joseph Henegar of Woodhaven, Mich.

“I’m very disappointed, but I’m going to practice even more so I can, hopefully, make it to the All-Star Game next year,” said Jackson, who also runs cross country and plans to try out for the high school team later this summer. “I haven’t gotten to the All-Star Game yet, so that’s the big goal. I like competing and it’s fun to do, so I’ll keep trying to get there.”

— David Biggy

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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