Casey Parsons continues to be a pretty dangerous No. 7 hitter for Hamilton West Side.
After collecting two hits in West Side’s Ohio Little League 12-year-old baseball tournament opener against Maumee, Parsons went 4-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs in Tuesday’s 12-3 triumph over Mt. Vernon at Ford Park’s Robert S. Hoag Field.
“I was comfortable at the plate,” said Parsons, a big first baseman. “They weren’t throwing very hard. Just put the ball in play.”
Parsons singled twice, doubled and launched a solo homer in the sixth inning for Hamilton, which piled up 12 hits between five players.
“He had some hits the other day, but today he actually hit the ball on the nose,” West Side coach Ken Coomer said. “It’s nice to have that ability in the seven-hole.”
Hamilton, the state 12-year-old champion in nine of the last 11 years, will face Canfield in the winners’ bracket final at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday at Ford Park.
“We can’t kid ourselves — they’re always in our mind,” Coomer said of the burgeoning rivalry with Canfield. “We look forward to playing them.”
Tuesday’s victory wasn’t as easy as the final score might indicate. West Side roared to a 4-0 lead in the first four batters of the game — Braedyn Moore and Katelyn Polido delivered doubles to make it 1-0, and Davis Avery and Lake Cundiff followed with back-to-back homers — but only led 4-3 after two innings.
Mt. Vernon wouldn’t score again, though, against Cundiff and Avery. Cundiff threw 4.1 innings in 69 pitches (officially 65) and Avery finished the six-hitter with nine strikeouts.
“We had a nice practice the last two days and a nice BP before we came here,” Coomer said. “The kids were focused, and it showed that first inning.
“We knew Mt. Vernon was a good team. They put the ball in play, and a couple little bloop hits here and there, and the next thing you know it’s 4-3. But we were confident we’d come back and hit the ball.”
Cundiff looked stronger as the game went on. He had eight strikeouts and no walks.
“He had a little trouble with his breaking ball early,” Coomer said. “He’s a big, strong kid. Sometimes it takes a little longer for him to get loose.”
Caden Rowland was the starting pitcher for Mt. Vernon and was lifted after the first four batters. Cash Finnell, Zach Mullins and Hudson Rohler followed and combined for 10 strikeouts.
“We tried to throw a little slow just to see what happened, and it obviously didn’t work the way we expected,” said Mt. Vernon coach Chris Buttke, in his first game back in the dugout after serving a two-game suspension because of an ejection at the district level.
“But I liked the way our boys battled back. They stayed in the game. We were hitting their pitchers. There were two or three plays that really shot us in the foot.
“I have huge respect for that program. I think Braedyn Moore is their best player based on what I’ve heard, but that Parsons kid is their best hitter. I don’t care what anybody says. Maybe that was just for today, but today he was their best hitter.”
Moore (3-for-3, double, three runs), Polido (2-for-3, two doubles, three RBIs), Avery (2-for-4, two RBIs) and Cundiff (1-for-3, two RBIs) were among the offensive leaders. Blake Detherage added an RBI.
Polido, West Side’s No. 2 hitter and right fielder, is 4-for-6 with five runs at the state tournament.
“Swinging the bat … it was good. I felt good,” Polido said. “I did have trouble in my second at-bat, but it’s fine.”
Polido and Jaycee Taylor, who started in left field Tuesday, have been all-star teammates since they were 9 years old. Coomer said he knows of no other West Side all-star squads that have included two girls at the same time.
“I think my role on this team is really important,” Polido said. “It’s fun playing with the boys, honestly. It’s really fun.”
Polido is clearly one of Hamilton’s best hitters. Coomer said that’s the bottom line when he makes out a lineup.
“We don’t even take into consideration that she’s a girl,” he said. “She’s a ballplayer. She’s a good two-hole hitter.”
Rowland, Ty Adams and Ben Bridges all plated runs for Mt. Vernon, which meets Dover in a 10:30 a.m. losers’ bracket contest Wednesday. The Olentangy Patriots and Maumee will follow with another elimination game at 1 p.m.
West Side 400-521—12-12-1
Mt. Vernon 120-000—3-6-1
WP — Lake Cundiff; LP — Caden Rowland; HR — WS: Cundiff, Davis Avery, Casey Parsons