MANCHESTER, Connecticut – One could make a valid argument that the young baseball career of Manchester’s Jacob Podars was a little more action-packed than most teenagers’. After all, he played in the Little League World Series, and this fall, he was in Game 2 of the World Series on his way to winning Big Baseball’s Pitch, Hit & Run competition for the 13- to 14-year-old age group.
Budarz recently spent some time with Patch to relive the whole experience. He looked cooler than most players his age with a calm and down-to-earth attitude, but he also admitted that his excitement level peaked when he reached the World Series.
“I guess I didn’t expect anything like that,” he said. “I’ve been doing competitions for a couple of years and I got to Fenway Park. But taking it all the way to the World Championships has been a lot of fun.”
Budarz’s road to the MLB Pitch Hit & Run Championship began at Minute Maid Park in Houston in July at Revere MA and earned enough points to compete in the Regional Finals in Fenway in August.
After that, it was a waiting game to see if he would qualify for the national finals at the World Championships. The top 4 scorers in each age group will compete after Match 2 of the World Championship. In September, he found out he was in the Finals, which included an all-expenses-paid trip to Game 2. The family laughed that the plane ride to Texas was more exciting than, say, the car ride to The Bronx.
“I’ve been to contests at Yankee Stadium and Fenway, but this was the World Series,” said Budharz. “The field looked a little more well. Houston is a lot different—much warmer—because the field is indoors, which is something I haven’t done yet.”
Podars continued, “Maybe there was a little more pressure because it was the final, but the stadium was still empty during the competition so not many people were watching you. It’s a really good achievement and I definitely wanted to win.”
In 2021 Budarz and his Manchester team made it to the Little League World Series after a series of wild games in the early playoff rounds. The team played well in the series, but endured an early exit. However, Manchester has participated in all festivals that have included meeting MLB players such as Mike Trout and Todd Frazier.
He said MLB competition was a little different.
“The Little League World Series was a team achievement,” he said. “The whole city was behind us and we were a part of our country. It’s a dream we all have as players.”
He thought for a moment, then added, “That single thing was a different kind of cool experience. Since I won it, I might remember this for a little longer.”
Podars joked that his run wasn’t the strongest loop—”I’m not really fast,” he joked—but his hitting and throwing made up for it as he racked up 1,790 points to defeat three warm-weather players from Texas, California, and Virginia. to make his age group.
“We got to know each other so it was a lot of fun,” he said. “The Little League World Series is every Little League kid’s dream, but this one, I think, beat it. It’s a nice thing to have in my book.”