Foster, 11, pitches, hits and runs away with title


August 07, 1994|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Contributing Writer

Nick Foster of Baltimore sprinted with bat in hand to home plate at Camden Yards, took some practice swings and dug in. He then lined two pitches onto the outfield grass.

Not bad for an 11-year-old who had stepped onto the grass at Camden Yards only once before -- during a tour. But that's why Foster is one of five area kids advancing to The Ballpark in Arlington for Major League Baseball's Pitch, Hit & Run national finals.

He refuses to let the pressure get to him.

"I wasn't really nervous," Foster said. "I thought I would make it past the regionals, but I wasn't sure about the finals here."

He says he isn't even worried about the finals in Arlington, Texas -- except for his first plane ride.

Foster, who plays third base and pitcher, excelled in the pitching part of the contest, which tests accuracy. The contestants, standing 46 feet away, get the most points for hitting the strike zone. The closer the pitch to the strike zone, the more points awarded.

"I hit it nearly every time," Foster said. "I just aimed and threw. I didn't think about it."

The running part was based on the contestant's time in a 60-foot sprint. Foster showed off some of his base-stealing skills in this event but said he wasn't outstanding.

In the hitting competition, contestants gained more points for distance.

The hitting showcase originally was scheduled to take place before a good-sized crowd between the games of the Orioles' day-night doubleheader last week. But rain forced the competition to July 30 with only parents and friends in the stands.

However, each kid did get his name on the scoreboard and was announced to the plate by Tom Davis.

"It was a little disappointing, but I got to meet Leo Gomez when we were rained out," Foster said. "He was great to talk to. Meeting him and sitting in the dugout made up for everything."

Foster may have to wait out another postponement. The national championship is scheduled for Sept. 17, but the baseball strike could move back or cancel the finals.

"At this point in time, it is still going to take place," competition representative Renne Faulconer said.

In any case, Foster expects to wait calmly for his chance.

"I don't think I will get scared down there," Foster said. "I'll just go out there and do the best I can."

Also advancing are Tim Byer, 13, of Pasadena; John Griffith, 12, of Williamsport, Pa.; Victor Ostrowski, 10, of Pasadena; and Joey Frykman, 9, of Gambrills.

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