Scotts MLB Pitch Hit & Run National Finals Experience - Gage Gillott

7/6/2017

Hello! My name is Gage Gillott and I am 13 years old from Connellsville, Pennsylvania. I will be representing the Pittsburgh Pirates during the Scotts MLB Pitch Hit & Run National Finals. I have competed in PHR for 6 years and have been to the Team Championship two other times and took second both times. Other years I had lost in the Sectionals which was disappointing even though two years I had been battling a broken arm during the competition making it quite difficult. This was the first year I was eligible to advance to the National Finals.

Every year, I ask the President of our local Little League (Ron Doppelheuer) the dates of the local competition so I can start to prepare. Running seems to come easy to me due to the strength and conditioning I must do for football, but my parents measure the distances of the running and I sprint it time after time. When it comes to the hitting your swing must change so you get under the ball and hit it high so it carries. So, I go to the cages a lot and try and groove that upward swing to get the most distance and straightest ball path possible. The targets are what makes or breaks me every year. I can hit 6 for 6 while practicing most of the time, but when it comes to the competition I guess nerves get to me and I usually only hit 3 or 4 which is normally not good enough to win.

Every year I make Pitch Hit & Run a priority. My dad normally calls the PHR headquarters to see where and when the sectional competitions are so we can work it in with my high school and travel team schedule. In past years, we have traveled up to 4 hours away to compete in the sectional competition, but luckily this year it worked out so I was able to go to sectioncals in my hometown.

The night before the Team Championship I was at our local little league field getting work and practice in for the competition. I hit off the tee multiple times and my brothers team chased after all the balls I hit into the other field, I ran the 180 feet and timed myself, and threw at a target so I knew I would feel confident throwing the next day. On the day of the Team Championship, my parents and I had woken up at 7 am and drove to Pittsburgh where the competition was held.

I knew in my head this was the big day and I felt confident that this was my year. I knew that this year and next year were my last chances to go to the National Finals. All the competitors were led down onto the field at PNC Park. Everyone including me was nervous and it was silent, no one was really talking. I asked another kid my age if he wanted to warm-up so we did and got our arms loose. First, we were pitching so when it was my turn I focused and tried so hard that I did worse than I thought and only hit 3 pitches. I was disappointed, but I knew it wasn’t over yet. Next, we hit and I felt confident just because I work on this all the time and it showed as I hit three big shots into center field. Last was running and I always am confident with this because a lot of my training is running and doing sprints so I knew I had done well. When it was over they announced the winners and I knew based on the way I performed I was the 13-14-year-old boy’s winner. I was glad because this was the first year I had a chance to go to the National Finals.

About two weeks later was the announcement day. I was at a Jr. Legion game when they were announcing so I couldn’t see it live but my mom saw a post on Facebook so after the game I got to see all the good news and get a bunch of support from my teammates. I was finally going to the National finals which was one of my dreams that I planned on accomplishing.

I would like to thank MLB Pitch Hit & Run, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Scotts for the opportunity they have given me to compete every year. I would like to thank everyone at the PHR headquarters for giving us all the information we need. I also want to thank my travel coach Tony David for everything he has taught me and for all the extra work he has given me as well as a push to get better and be the best I can be. And of course, I would like to thank my family for all the support and love they give me and my parents for their dedication on providing me with good opportunities to succeed and reach my goals. Miami, here I come!