BY DEAN HOCKNEY
KOKOMO, Ind. - Entering the 60th rendition of the annual David A. Kasey Memorial Youth Baseball Tournament in Howard County, Hollingsworth Lumber joined fellow Russiaville Youth Baseball League and defending champion Lions Club as one of a short list of favorites to take home the Ralph Stewart Insurance Traveling Trophy. The bracket draw was favorable for the two teams, and they played through the tourney to meet in the title game at Taylor Southeast. Only one could win, and it was Hollingsworth that earned a 5-0 victory to unseat the 2015 champs.
But claiming the title was not easy.
Meeting for the fourth time this season, Hollingsworth – the 2000 Kasey Tourney champion – led the series 3-0. Beating a team three times in one season is tough enough, but to beat them four times is rare. With Parker Dean on the hill, Holly knew the game would not be easy as Lions Club entered the contest having outscored its opponents 60-16 in tourney play. Fortunately, Dean had been there before – he and his brother Mitchell were members of the 2014 Kasey Tourney champion H.P. McPike squad from UCT. Ironically, the team they beat was the squad they now play for.
With Dean throwing bullets – he struck out 10 of the first 11 Lions Club hitters - one would think Hollingsworth Lumber would be in control. They were not. On the other side was Lions Club pitcher Dylan Bryant who tossed two shutout innings, and Garrett Lupoi did the same thing in the third and fourth innings as both issued intentional passes to hard hitting Parker Dean.
Dean tossed another gem in the top of the fifth inning as the game was still knotted at zero. With Lupoi still on the hill, Hollingsworth Lumber finally broke up the pitcher’s dual in the bottom half of the stanza. Tyler Flores walked to lead off the inning and touched second on a bad-hop single off the bat of Aaron Simon. A passed ball advanced the runners one slot and Christian Pownall ripped a shot back up the middle that Lupoi played well. The pitcher fired home but Flores beat the throw and tag to score the first – and eventual winning – run of the game.
With the lead, Hollingsworth Lumber was not done. Nathan Gremelspacher grounded out to score Simon for a 2-0 lead. Then Mitchell Dean crushed a double to the fence to score Pownall. Parker Dean was intentionally walked for a third time with first base open. Mitchell then went to third on a delayed steal and scored on a throwing error, an error that allowed Parker to reach third. Avery Fields then laid down a perfect bunt – the ball rolled and stopped on the chalk – that turned into an RBI single and a 5-0 lead. An inning-ending double play stopped the rally, but the damage was already done.
Entering the sixth inning, the only real question remaining was whether Parker Dean would toss a championship game no-hitter. That answer was no, but he was close. With two outs, Hayden Shepherd broke up the no-no with an infield single, joining Keegan Burnett as the only Lions Club hitters to reach base (third inning walk).
Parker Dean recorded one of the most dominating championship game pitching outings in tournament history. The hard-thrower tossed a one-hit shutout and recorded 15 strikeouts – including mowing down the first eight Lions Club hitters of the game. He walked one and gave up just the sixth-inning hit to Shepherd.
Mitchell Dean led the offense for Hollingsworth with a two hits – he also had a fourth inning single.
See the Sports Journal and Kokomo Herald issues for more on this story.