Matt Novis Gets MLB Pitch Hit and Run Love

I don’t know how I missed it, but right after the Home Run Derby, MLB network published this story about the Pitch Hit and Run Competition:

Matt gets several prominent mentions in the article.

Matt With Trophy

I feel it was pretty special that they focused on Matt’s story.

Travel Log Day 2: Part 2 – The Champion

Champion

Blogging on the road is harder than it looks. Well, it is for me. There are a couple of things that made this challenging.

  1. Mixing iPhone and Camera images can be cumbersome and tricky.
  2. RAW (the image format) sounds great in principle. In practice, it doubles the number of images you have to deal with and gobbles up your storage.
  3. It’s hard to have a rhythm when you travel.
  4. If you spend all of your time on your keyboard you might miss the thing you came to see.

So having said all of there, here’s the skinny.

Matt is the 2014 Pitch Hit and Run 13 & 14 National Champion

How about that? It was a close contest. Andy from North Dakota actually hit 4 pitches while Matt only hit 3. After that Matt did what he has always done and just focused on the things he can control.

After the pitching they went to hitting. Andy had a few nice hits off the Tee, but they were pretty far off the center line.

If Matt was going to make up ground, he would have to do it in the hitting. Each pitch is worth 75 points for a maximum total of (6 x 75) 450 points.

Hitting, however is open ended. It is double your distance. The record is a whopping 365 feet – held by a 12 year old believe it or not! That is a 730 point value. More than many kids total score.

Matt’s first hit was a line drive to second base. Not a great start. His second hit was much better, about 275 but thirty feet left of the tape. His last hit was the championship shot. Everyone oohed and ahed when he hit it. I would later find out that it was 294 feet, four inches off the tape. Suddenly Matt was right back in it.

The final challenge was running and both Matt and Andy put in times very close to 7 seconds. The question was, how did they balance out? Was 4 pitches more valuable than Matt’s long hit?

In the end, Matt’s hit made the difference. He was crowned National Champion with a score of 1226.

Matt is named Champion
Matt is Named Champion

Later Matt told me that none of the kids did as well at National as they did at home. There were a couple of reasons for that. First, they have travelled, there is a lot going and it’s a daunting being there. The same thing happened to Ryan’s group.

But, at the end of the day the real award was shagging fly balls in the outfield during the home run derby.

Matt Shagging Fly Balls
Matt Shagging Fly Balls

Matt was out there when Geancarlo Stanton hit his epic blast ¾ of the way up the deck in left field. It was awesome from the seats, I can’t imagine what they looked like from the ground.

I could not be more proud of Matthew. He put in the work, and he earned it.

Photo Stream

If you want to see all 177 photos (integrated from my phone and my camera) as well as the picture of both boys with their trophies, check out my iCloud Pitch Hit and Run 2014 PhotoStream

Travel Log – Day 1 – Arrival

We arrived in Minneapolis without much drama. We had a boring flight which is what you want in travel these days. We woke up at 4:30 AM to get ready to leave by 5:15 so we could arrive at the airport in time for our 7am flight. We got up a little early, but it all worked out as we needed time to check a bag and get through security.

Like I said, the plane flight was uneventful, and the crew were very nice. When we landed, both Matt and I agreed the gate area in Minneapolis was amazing.

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What made it impressive was that every table had power, USB ports, and iPads. It was the most useful space I have ever seen at any airport.

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We were then met at baggage claim by the event coordinator. They put us on the shuttle to the hotel. There, we were greeted by more staff, and checked into the Pitch, Hit, and Run event.

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All in all this is a very well run event. With a few hours to kill before the welcome dinner,m Matt and I decided to hit The Mall Of America.

Mall of America

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I remember hearing about this years ago, but the MOA really is very impressive.

Matt and I wandered, bought a gummy worm large enough to put a saddle on and road the rides at the Nickelodeon indoor theme park.

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Welcome Dinner

The welcome dinner was a top notch affair and they really loaded the kids up with some nice gifts. I wonder how we will get it all home.

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All Stars – Home Run Derby

10:00AM Rebecca is at grandmas. Matt is now off with his friends. Ryan is at the brunch by now. I need to meet them at the stadium by 11 am. I’m showered and mostly dressed. I got nothing done this morning. Expected to get some programming done but everything took longer than expected. Video camera is ready and charged. (I wonder if we will ever look at the pictures – I hope so). TiVo is programmed to record the Home Run Derby. I just pray Cox doesn’t crap out again. They don’t like TiVo and very often our cable card just stops working. Only shows gray. I better make sure all of them are set to record.
They can’t all go bad at once can they?

Spider to Catch BIG Flies

For the past three years both my boys have participated in the Pitch Hit and Run Competition hosted by our local little league. It’s one of those fun things that add a little more excitement to our picture day.

Ryan (Spider) three years ago made it to Chase Field for the team championships, but took third place. This year Ryan went out for the 13/14 Category. He posted some pretty gaudy numbers in the local competition which advanced him to the sectional competition.

At the Sectional Competition, he posted a score high enough to make it to the Team Championships. Many people think that winning the section automatically qualifies you for the Team Championships but it doesn’t. In some markets there may be as many as 20 sectionals! Only the three highest scoring winners advance.

The National Level Competition is similar. Out of the 30 Team Champions in each age group, only the 3 highest scores will advance to the National Level Competition. It is extremely unusual for kids with odd number ages to advance as the advantage usually goes to a year more experience and growth.

However, this year Ryan has been playing a lot of club baseball. And not just any baseball, but Chandler Ranger Baseball. The Rangers are a nationally ranked club baseball team (top 5 in the country) that has won 15 tournaments in both 13U Majors and 14U age brackets. They will be traveling to Florida at the end of July to participate in the USSSA Elite 32 World Series. All of that practice and competition had a measurable impact on Ryan’s development as a player.

And that came to fruition a few week ago when Ryan lofted a baseball off a tee far into the outfield at The Diamondbacks spring training facility. His hit not only caught the attention of the National PH&R director, coupled with his pitching and base running speed, his hit gave him enough points to earn a spot in the national competition.

Starting tomorrow, Ryan and his fellow competitors will journey to a brunch hosted by Major League Baseball then they will travel to Chase Field to continue their All Star Journey. You know how some competitions have 100 first prize winners? The way they are handling this event makes it feel like there are 24 first prize winners. So regardless of what happens they’ve made everyone feel very special.

For my part, I will try to capture as much as I can to preserve and share.