Phoenix – A 13-year-old Arizona boy died after a baseball hit him over the heart as he tried to bunt in a Little League game, officials said.
Hayden Walton went for the bunt during a game Tuesday night in the close-knit northern Arizona city of Winslow, said Jamey Jones, a Winslow Little League official.
"He took an inside pitch right in the chest," Jones said Friday. "After that he took two steps to first base and collapsed."
He died the next morning at a local hospital.
The boy's parents, who were at the game, were shocked and unable to speak to members of the media, league president and family spokesman Dale Thomas said.
"It's a hard thing to handle for everyone," Thomas said. "When you're touched by something of this magnitude, it sends shock waves throughout the community."
Thomas said he grew up around the boy's family and described Hayden as "the epitome of what every little boy ought to be." Besides participating in Little League, Hayden was a Boy Scout, loved to work on cars and helped neighborhood widows by mowing their lawns and doing odd jobs for them, Thomas said.
He said Hayden had a younger sister.
The league suspended games until Friday and has counselors available for players or parents who need them.
Stephen Keener, president and CEO of Little League Baseball and Softball, said in a statement that "the loss of a child is incomprehensible."
"Words cannot adequately express our sorrow on the passing of Hayden," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Hayden's family, all the players and volunteers of the Winslow Little League, his classmates, and his friends, at this difficult time."