Nate McMullen received the surprise of his young life when he was told late this week that he is the Pepsi Major League Pitch, Hit and Run 7- and 8-year-old age division sectional champion.
The bombshell occurred after McMullen was told at the conclusion of sectionals, held May 12 in Flagstaff, he was second in his age division.
But after his return to Payson, event officials phoned his parents, Craig and Mary, to tell them the first-place finisher was actually 9 years old and had been disqualified.
Which means, young McMullen is now the sectional age group champion and is eligible to advance to the state championships next month at Arizona Diamondbacks Chase Field.
Also in the sectional showdown, Lane Belcher was runner-up overall in the 9- and 10-year-old division and in the 7- and 8-year division, Carl Adcock was second.
Adcock was originally placed third, but after the disqualification of the 9-year-old, he moved up to second.
Town of Payson Parks and Recreation coordinator Mary McMullen said, "All of our boys represented Payson well and had a great time."
The trio of young athletes advanced to the sectional championship, by virtue of their showings in the Payson competition, held April 18 at Rumsey Park.
Belcher won the title for hitting in his age division. McMullen was the run champ among the 7- and 8-year-olds and Adcock won the overall crown in the age group.
Pitch, Hit and Run is a baseball skills competition that allows young athletes to showcase their talents in pitching, hitting and running, with scores determined by individual performances in each skill event.