USC’s Hufnagel to participate in MLB All-Star event

Published Jul 9, 2013 at 2:45 pm (Updated Jul 9, 2013 at 2:45 pm)

Four Pirates won’t be the only local Pittsburghers participating in the 2013 MLB All-Star Game this July 15 at Citi Field in New York. Jacob Hufnagel of Upper St. Clair will join those celebrities.

The 8-year-old Upper St. Clair resident qualified for the MLB Pitch, Hit and Run national championships and earned a trip to the All-Star Game, where he will shag fly balls during the Home Run Derby.

Hufnagel, who vacationed recently at Folly Beach in South Carolina and at the lake over the Fourth of July, is thrilled to be among the boys and girls from around North America to travel into Mets’ territory for the Midsummer Classic. “I am excited because it’s my first time to be in New York City,” he said “I hope to see the Statue of Liberty,” he added enthusiastically.

Thanks to his participation in sports, Hufnagel has already seen plenty. After winning the local competition at the Community and Recreation Center at Boyce Mayview Park, he finished first in the national qualifier held at PNC Park.

More than 600,000 boys and girls competed nationally in the event, but only the top 720 advanced to qualifiers held at the 24 major league ball parks. At PNC Park, Hufnagel racked up a 758 score.

During the competition, contestants threw six pitches at a target. Hufnagel found the mark three times and finished with a 225 score. In addition to being timed running from second base to home pate, the youngsters batted three times. Hufnagel clocked in at 8.89 seconds in the run and he socked two hits. He was the only batter to single beyond second base and into the outfield for a distance of 136 feet.

Hitting is the 4-foot, 1-inch shortstop’s forte. The switch hitter has already smashed 14 home runs, including five grand slams this recreation season.

“I like the hitting best,” he said of the PHR competition, “because I am always trying to hit it farther than my last hit. I like hitting it far.”

While the Pirates are his favorite club, Hufnagel excels for the USC Panthers, his Little League travel team. He is playing in four tournaments this summer. “They are a lot of fun,” he said. “I love playing all summer with my friends.”

In the fall, Hufnagel plays football and soccer. He plays basketball during the winter months.

Football, however, may be his sport and not because his father, Jeff, excelled in the activity at Bethel Park and Washington and Jefferson College. Rather, because, Hufnagel appears to be just as good at the sport as baseball.

See, this past fall, he scored 17 touchdowns for his team. Plus, he won the NFL Punt, Pass and Kick competition. Though he just turned 8, he competed against all of the 9-year-old contestants, too. “I was nervous because they were older than me. But,” he said, “I still beat them. That was pretty cool.”

Hufnagel finds other activities, besides sports to be pretty cool. Dubbed “Fierce Falcon,” he is involved in the YMCA Indian Guides. He also says that he does “especially well” on his reading and math exams at Baker Elementary School.

“I love playing sports because that is what I do most of the time with my friends,” said the son of Michele Hufnagel. “But, I also like to read books, watch the Steelers and play video games on my iPod touch.

“But,” he added, “I try to be a really good son and big brother to my sisters.” They are twins, Logan and Megan, ages 6.

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