ROBINSON, ILL. - Now that they’ve gotten a taste, Tommy Parker hopes his Blue Lick All-Stars will work even harder to make a return trip to the Babe Ruth regional tournament.
The 14-year-old All Stars, made up of players from Bullitt and southern Jefferson County, won the West Kentucky state championship and advanced to the Ohio Valley Regional tournament in Robinson, Ill.
They finished with a 2-2 record.
“It was good for the kids to go,” Parker said of the experience. “It’s good to see players and teams with different skills. You get to see how some of the other competition stacks up.”
In the end, he hopes the desire will be for the team to return next season and made a bid once again for the regional play.
“I think we can get back here next year,” said Parker. “We’ve got a great group of kids.”
After winning the state title on a Tuesday night, the Blue Lick team had to turn around and raise money on Wednesday, pack their bags that night and then get on the road early Thursday morning to the tournament site.
In the opening round, Blue Lick took advantage of an excellent pitching performance from Darren Harper to defeat the Southern Indiana champs 6-4.
“We hit the ball early and that helped everyone relax,” said Parker.
Harper threw five shutout innings and Luke Sivori came on to get the save. On the final play with the tying runner on base, shortstop Tyler Capito dove to catch a line drive and then stepped on second for the game-ending double play.
On Saturday, Blue Lick played the Ohio state champs to a 4-4 tie in the sixth.
However, a few errors enabled Ohio to pull out an 8-5 victory.
Parker said Capito pitched well but the defense gave up a few runs.
“It was probably the best game of the tournament for six innings,” said Parker.
In the loser’s bracket elimination game, Blue Lick took care of the host Robinson team 10-4.
Coming into the game, Parker said he felt Blue Lick should have no trouble. This allowed him to put five pitchers on the mound. Kyle Hoskins started and went the first two innings. Austin Tucker, James Combest, Wesley Parker and Sivori also had stints on the hill.
Blue Lick hit the end of the road on Sunday afternoon when it faced Saginaw, Mich.
Facing a very good pitcher who threw a lot of curveballs, Parker said the offense never got going.
Brandon Johnson pitched well for Blue Lick but Parker said the defense made a few errors which hurt, especially since the team couldn’t score a lot of runs.
“With a better draw, we might have won three or four games,’ said Parker. “But it was a great experience and the kids had a wonderful season.”
Parker thanked the parents and grandparents for their support and sacrifices required when a team makes a long tournament run.
As a program, he said Blue Lick thanked people like Dave and Carolyn Lucas and Darrell Smith for their support throughout the season.
For Blue Lick, this team was the fourth to win a state title.
The Blue Lick 14 All Stars included Justin Belt, Tyler Capito, James Constant, Chance Egnor, Darren Harper, Kyle Hoskins, Brandon Johnson, Patrick Malone, Tyler Mayberry, Wesley Parker, Carl Phillips, Luke Sivori and Austin Tucker.
Parker was assisted by Challis Ford and Jamie Mayberry.