Even though their youth baseball teams did not make it past elimination rounds to play in this year's Cal Ripken World Series in Aberdeen, 10-year-old Ethan Scott and 12-year-old Grayson Nichols, who live on Maryland's Lower Eastern Shore, made the trip to Harford County with their families to see the top 12-year-old players in the U.S. and the world.
Saturday was a full day of pool play in the Series, which is the championship tournament for the Babe Ruth League's 12U Major/70 Cal Ripken Division and involves 10 U.S. teams and eight international squads.
Nichols and Scott, who live in Salisbury and Pocomoke City, respectively, gathered with other children behind the center-field wall of the Cal Sr. Yard of The Ripken Experience Aberdeen complex near Ripken Stadium to watch the South Korean and Puerto Rican teams.
"I just wanted to watch, because these guys are amazing," Nichols said.
He and other children scrambled to catch home-run balls hit by players from both teams. South Korea went on to beat Puerto Rico, 3-1, and each run came via homer.
"By the time we saw it come off the bat, we knew it was coming," Scott said.
Nichols said the ball was "coming real hard; you could hear it off the bat."
Maryland's First Lady, Yumi Hogan, who is a native of South Korea, talked with the Korean players and coaches before the game and took pictures with them. She also threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game against Puerto Rico.
Angie Han, of Bel Air, whose family is hosting two Korean players, said she was thankful for the time Hogan spent with the team.
"I am very, very thankful for her to take her time to speak with the boys and take pictures," Han said.
Pool play continues Sunday through Wednesday. The semifinals for U.S. and international teams will be played Thursday with the U.S. and international championships Friday, followed by the World Championship on Aug. 1.