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3/19/2014 12:21 P.M. ET

Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run launches new season with more than 4,000 competitions

Scotts returns as presenting sponsor of the "Official Skills Competition of Major League Baseball"

Major League Baseball Properties today announced that the 2014 Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run program presented by Scotts, the "Official Youth Skills Competition of Major League Baseball," is underway with over 4,000 competitions planned to take place across North America. Presenting sponsor Scotts, the "Official Lawn Care Company of Major League Baseball," is in its second year sponsoring the grassroots program. Aquafina, the "Official Bottled Water of Major League Baseball," is also a supporting sponsor of the program. The National Finals, featuring the top competitors in each age division by gender, will take place at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota during 2014 MLB All-Star Week.

In 2013, the youth skills program reached approximately 625,000 boys and girls between the ages of seven and 14, providing an integrated competition that recognizes individual excellence in core baseball and softball skills.     Pitch, Hit & Run invites youth to demonstrate their skills, competing in pitching, hitting and running abilities.

"The Pitch, Hit & Run presented by Scotts program provides an opportunity to more than half a million boys and girls across the country to stay active and showcase their baseball and softball skills," said Tim Brosnan, Executive Vice President, Business, Major League Baseball. "With the top finishers in each age division earning a spot in the National Finals, they will have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to compete at Target Field during All-Star Week, just like some of the best players in the game."

"Being active and outdoors is so important to our youth and communities, and the Pitch, Hit & Run program offers the perfect opportunity," said Patti Ziegler, vice president global marketing communications, Scotts. "Scotts is committed to offering children a safe, reliable field and play space to encourage as much outdoor activity as possible. In addition to helping reduce injuries, a strong foundation of thick grass helps to create a beautiful outdoor environment that encourages children and families to spend time outside."

To celebrate the 2014 Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run presented by Scotts program, young baseball and softball players from the Newark RBI program participated in a clinic at MLB Network's Studio 42 on March 17th hosted by MLB Network analysts John Hart and Dan Plesac. The kids received tips from Hart and Plesac as they practiced their hitting, pitching and running skills. The RBI program is the MLB youth initiative designed to give young people from underserved communities the opportunity to play baseball and softball, encourage academic success and teach the value of teamwork and other important life lessons. The RBI program currently serves more than 210,000 young men and women in approximately 300 programs established in over 200 cities worldwide.

Pitch, Hit & Run presented by Scotts participants can advance through four levels of competition, beginning at the local level, which can be hosted by organizations, leagues, or volunteers within a community, and continuing through sectional and team competitions. All 30 MLB Clubs will host team championships at their ballparks on weekends from May 31st through June 29th. The top competitors nationwide from each age group (7-8, 9-­10, 11-­12 and 13-­14) will advance to the 2014 Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run presented by Scotts National Finals during MLB All­-Star Week at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

This is the 18th year MLB has run a youth skills program. Information regarding dates, times and locations of local competitions as well as entry forms and other materials for the 2014 Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run presented by Scotts program are available online at mlb.mlb.com/PHR

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.