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June 12, 2010

 

Prentice returns to Stadium

HPRJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Justin Prentice, 13, of Cortland, has advanced to compete in the Aquafina Pitch, Hit & Run championships being held June 19 at Yankees Stadium.

By TANEY BEAUMONT
Staff Writer

Justin Prentice is going back for more.The 13-year-old baseball player from Cortland is headed to Yankee Stadium June 19 for the second year in a row to take part in the Major League Baseball Aquafina Pitch, Hit & Run Team Championship competition in the Boys’ 13-14 age group, after finishing third in the 11-12 division last year.
Prentice, who played on the Cortland modified squad this past season and is a member of the Cortland Crusaders 13-14 Teener squad, first won on the Local level at Beaudry Park in April, and then won at the Sectional level last month at West Genesee High School. His score of 1,092 in the latter competition was compared with other sectional winners in the state, and was good enough to earn him one of three spots (down from four last year) from his age group at the Team Championship level.
Prentice got the word via mail on Tuesday. “I was surprised but happy that it came again,” he said, having recognized the letter that informed him he was moving on after having received one last year. “My last score was more than 1,000, so I pretty much knew that I’d make it this time, too.”
Having already been to Yankee Stadium once for the competition, which involves pitching at a major league strike zone from 46 feet, hitting for distance and accuracy off a batting tee and running 160 feet from a bit past second base to home in a timed sprint, Prentice, now in his fourth year of the program, feels that things should be that much easier this time around.
“Being in Sectionals last year helped me, and I think going to Yankee Stadium last year will help this time, too,” he said. “One of my goals is going there three years in a row; I think I might. I’m going to give it a try.”
Prentice will look to be the second Yankee Stadium winner from Cortland in as many years as Brian Hughes won the 13-14 event last year. “That would be a pretty good tradition,” Prentice said with a smile.
The competition will take place in the morning on June 19, with the players and their guests (each participant receives two game tickets, including one for themselves) attending that afternoon’s interleague game with the cross-town rival Mets. All eight age-group winners, in boys — and, for the first time, girls competing with softballs — ages 7-8, 9-10, 11-12 and 13-14, will be recognized in pre-game ceremonies, with their names on the scoreboard.
Once all 30 of the MLB Team Championships are complete, the scores will be compared and the top three in each age group will advance to the National Finals, which will be part of the festivities associated with the Major League All-Star Game in Anaheim, California July 13. All National competitors will shag fly balls during the Home Run Derby the night before the All-Star Game, which they and their families will attend as guests of Major League Baseball.

To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard