Josh Prinzel (circled) was invited to the third round of the
MLB Pitch, Hit and Run competition, held at Nationals
Park in Washington, DC.
Joshua Prinzel of Yorktown recently spent a day at Nationals Park that was quite different from what most of us are used to.

Prinzel, a 14-year old star pitcher for Tabb Middle School and his York District 7 Junior team, recently advanced into the third round of the national MLB Pitch, Hit and Run competition, earning him a chance to perform all three baseball skills on the same field that Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper call home.

It was the culmination of a fascinating year for Prinzel. First, his Tabb Middle team won the middle school district championship and finished undefeated for the first time in school history. From there, the young pitcher transitioned to his York District 7 team, which won the regional championship 7-2 over Deer Park, with the fireballer striking out 11 in the finale.

Still, his biggest athletic moment this summer may have come from the result of a suggestion.

“One of my coaches suggested that I try out for Pitch, Hit and Run,” said Prinzel, who was unaware of where the path would lead.

On a Saturday in early May, Prinzel showed up to the York County Sports Complex to try his luck in the 13-14 age group. Because of baseball games taking place around the complex, the athletes were allowed to toss their six baseballs for strikes from 45 feet, hit a baseball off a tee for distance, and then allow themselves to be timed on a run from second base to third to home at any point in the day.

For this reason, the rising Tabb High freshman completed his circuit and then went home, not knowing how he placed, or even how many other players took part in the event.

That was until almost a week later when he received a call inviting him to compete in the regional competition at Harbor Park in Norfolk.

A couple of weeks later, Prinzel and his father Lance left Yorktown “very early” to make the 7:30 AM start time, as the event took place before the Saturday Tides game. This time, Prinzel got to see who he was up against.

“There were about 15 for each age group,” Asked about nervousness, he added, “I thought I had a shot (to win), but just wanted to have some fun.”

However, Prinzel, being a natural pitcher, jumped to a great start in the Pitch portion, then held his own in the hitting, leaving only the Run to complete his turn.

“I didn’t know how I did in the other two events, but don’t think I won the hitting or running,” said Prinzel, who once again left the ballpark unaware of his placing.

Again, several days passed before the phone rang again. This time, it was from Jason Bethea, the national point-of-contact for Pitch, Hit and Run, who called to inform Prinzel that he had advanced to the next round, and that his next stop would be Nationals Park in Washington, DC on June 11, as one of the top-three finishers in the Washington Nationals viewing market.

Although Prinzel did not make the top-three nationally to earn a trip to Miami for the “World Series” finals during All-Star week, he did draw attention from one important sports outlet. During the Hit portion, Prinzel drove a ball off the tee well over 300 feet, a feat worthy of his baseball hero and Washington National, Bryce Harper.

His father Lance happened to be sitting next to the representative of Major League Baseball’s website, MLB.com, and recalled the words he heard.

“He said that he had never seen anyone that age hit a ball that far off the tee,” said the elder Prinzel. In a moment’s notice, the MLB.com representative turned into reporter and captured the Yorktown resident for an on-field interview, which was featured on the MLB.com website and can be found at:  http://m.mlb.com/news/article/235746274/nationals-host-pitch-hit--run-competition/

Over 600,000 athletes in eight age groups took part in this year’s Pitch, Hit and Run competition. In spite of not making the Miami event, Prinzel placed in the top-30 nationally for his age group.