Students spent the afternoon running the bases and taking turns in the Hops' batting cages.

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Ajani Perry, 9, connect with a ball in the Hillsboro Hops batting cage on July 23. Perry is one of more than 100 kids to take part in a one-day event at Ron Ronkin Field.Out of sight from a blazing sun, Ajani Perry swings, and connects.

The sound of the bat striking the baseball reverberets throughout the cement batting cage, and the ball goes flying, striking the lens hood of photographer Christopher Oertell.

"I'm OK," Oertell said, stepping out of the Hillsboro Hops batting cage. "But I think I'm out of here."

Perry, 9, was one of 120 Hillsboro-area kids to take part in the Play Ball Summer initiative sponsored by Major League Baseball.

Students from the city's Sizzling Summer Day Camp and the Inukai Boys & Girls Club in downtown Hillsboro spent the afternoon at Ron Tonkin Field running the bases, picking grounders and flyballs, and taking their turns in the Hillsboro Hops' batting cages underneath the stadium.

"We want the kids learning the different skills that make up baseball," said Sean Morgan, the city's senior recreation services manager. "It's fun."

Organized by the United States Conference of Mayors and Minor League Baseball, the event is meant to provide play opportunities for kids across the country. Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway, an avid Hillsboro Hops fan, was on hand to help kids pitch, run and hit on Monday.

This is the first year the city has organized an event in relation to Play Ball, Morgan said. In previous years, the city council has made proclamations encouraging kids to get out and play.

"The Boys & Girls Club does as many outings as they can, but they don't always have the resources. Today, kids get to come hang out with the Hops mascot, eat a hot dog at the park and come play in this cool ballpark."

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