Tigers host Pitch, Hit & Run at Comerica Park

DETROIT -- Stepping onto the Comerica Park playing surface was nothing new for Luke Janack, but that didn't make it any less special.

Luke was one of 24 Michigan youth ballplayers who gathered on Saturday morning for Major League Baseball's Pitch, Hit & Run event, sponsored by Scott's. The competition consisted of hitting off a tee, running from second to home and throwing pitches at a strike zone.

Luke, a native of Detroit suburb Canton, was also one of eight division winners. He took home the title in the 9- and 10-year-old division, thriving in his favorite event -- running the bases.

Luke, a Tigers fan, said he also enjoyed simply being on the field once again. Two years ago, he advanced to the Tigers' team competition but fell just short of advancing to the All-Star event. This year, he might finally get his chance.

More than 4,000 local competitions take place each year, with participants needing to advance through a local competition and sectionals to reach the team competition held in each Major League city between May 31 and June 29.

Luke won a sectional at Eastern Michigan University to clinch a return trip to Comerica Park, home of his favorite player, Miguel Cabrera. Luke beat out 20 participants in the sectional round.

The top three winners from each age group among all 30 teams will have the opportunity to compete in the national competition during All-Star Week on July 14 at Target Field in Minneapolis. The top three winners will be announced on June 29 on MLB Network.

The program began in 1997 in order to get more people involved in baseball. Two current Major Leaguers are former participants -- Twins outfielder Chris Parmelee and Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer.

Immediately after the event Saturday, the Janack family piled in a car and headed to an out-of-town baseball tournament. Participating in the Tigers' competition meant Luke would be running a little late for his team's first game of the day. That just means he'd have to show off the trademark speed that helped punch his ticket to Target Field.

"I'm fast," Luke said, adding he's extremely excited for his chance to compete in the national competition next month.

Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.