A sharply hit foul ball struck a child during the Chicago Cubs' game with the Astros in Houston on Wednesday night, sending the young fan to a hospital and briefly pausing the contest as the batter knelt in shock.
Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr. hit the line drive in the fourth inning at the Astros' Minute Maid Park, into the field-level seats on the third-base side.
The crowd let out a collective gasp when the ball struck the child. Almora was visibly distraught, throwing his hands behind his head immediately after seeing the impact.
The little girl was taken to a hospital, but the her condition was not immediately available. A fan who was sitting nearby, David LeVasseur, told CNN that the child appeared to be conscious as she was being carried away.
Before finishing the at-bat, Almora got down on one knee and lowered his head as his manager and a teammate consoled him.
Later in the game, Almora went to the area of the stands where the child was hit and appeared to cry in the arms of a female security guard.
A shaken Almora told reporters of his regret after the Cubs' 2-1 victory, and of his hope that he'd be in touch with the child.
'As soon as I hit it, the first person I locked eyes on was her,' he said, speaking hesitatingly, his eyes down. '... Obviously I didn't want that to happen and intend for that to happen.'
'God willing, I'll be able to have a relationship with this little girl for the rest of my life. Prayers right now, and that's all I really can control.'
The Houston Astros confirmed the child was taken to a hospital, but declined to provide further information.
'We are not able to disclose any further details at this time. The Astros send our thoughts and prayers to the entire family,' the team said in a statement.
Major League Baseball extended protective netting
Before the start of last season, Major League Baseball announced that it was extending protective netting at all 30 ballparks to at least the ends of both dugouts, intending to enhance fans' safety.
The child who was struck on Wednesday night was sitting beyond the third-base dugout's far end
The league extended the netting after high-profile incidents in which batted balls struck fans -- including a man who was blinded in one eye by a foul ball during an August 2017 game at the Cubs' Wrigley Field.
Almora's wife: 'Alberto wants to remain in this little girl's life forever'
Almora's wife, Krystal Almora, told CNN on Thursday that her husband texted her about his grief shortly after the foul ball, and after the game.
'Alberto wants to remain in this little girl's life forever,' she said.
'I think if he was able to, he would have gone to the hospital to see her' that night, she said.
The Cubs flew to St. Louis early Thursday ahead of a weekend series against the Cardinals.
'He was definitely a wreck when it happened. It was such a scary, awful thing to experience,' she said.
The Almoras have two children -- one who is nearly 3, and an infant.
'You just know ... how frightening this could be,' she said.