2020 was a big bummer for high school baseball, but ’21 is turning out pretty well for Maryknoll junior Parker Grant.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound pitcher struck out eight in a complete-game win as coach Brandon Toro’s Hawaii Elite 2G squad defeated the Tennessee Nationals. That game was delayed initially because of lightning in the Atlanta area. The squad went unbeaten in pool play, then defeated the Tennessee Nationals, 5-4, again on Monday.
In a showdown with the nation’s No. 2 club team, East Cobb Astros (Ga.), the championship game of Perfect Game’s Battle of the Southeast was called after five innings with the score tied at 2. When the tournament schedule was pushed back due to inclement weather on Sunday plus some extra-inning games, the team from Hawaii still had to make its flight on Sunday afternoon and was stuck without an option.
It was a tie and a win in symbolic terms. Hawaii Elite 2G had Shaydan Lovediro (Kamehameha) on the mound, and he allowed two runs, both unearned, on two hits with two strikeouts and three walks over five innings. He went up against the country’s No. 2-rated pitcher, Dylan Lesko, who throws a fastball in the 93-96 mph range. East Cobb, of Marietta, Ga., was declared the 17U tourney champion.
Coming of the cancelled 2020 season, and Maryknoll’s competitive season in ILH play against many of the state’s behemoths, Parker is in the midst of a baseball wonderland with more traveling ahead.
“We were competing every game,” he said of the Spartans’ season. “We just couldn’t finish and get the wins, but I think we had a pretty good season and we definitely shocked a lot of people by hanging with a lot of good teams.”
After a break of roughly two weeks, it was time for club ball with scrimmages against other clubs. Grant credited pitching guru Ashkon Kuhaulua.
“In between ILH and this whole big trip, I was with my pitching coach, Ashkon Kuhaulua. To be honest, it’s really all him. He’s the one who makes all of us good. His knowledge of the game and his knowledge of pitching is so good. We can relate to him,” Grant said. “Outside of pitching, he’s like our uncle. When it’s game time, he’s our coach.”
Grant has a repertoire of four pitches, but saw his effectiveness increase significantly.
CG from this past tournament. 8ks. pic.twitter.com/s2ymfn8D1n
— Parker Grant (@ParkerGrant42) June 15, 2021
Started during the championship vs East Cobb Astros 17U. 5 IP, 2 Hits, 2 Runs, 0 Earned Runs, 3 BB, 2Ks pic.twitter.com/sJTaZFfCBk
— Shaydan Lovediro (@shaaydann) June 15, 2021
“Honestly, everything has gotten a lot better. My fastball, change-up, slider and curve. I really developed my slider when I met Coach Ash,” Grant said.
The team left Honolulu on June 8 and will return in late July. That’s seven weeks of barnstorming. They are now in Arizona.
“Some guys are playing even longer because they’re going to play 16U when we’re done. This team has a really good bond, so I really enjoy it. I wouldn’t want to play on any other team,” Grant said.
Part of the pandemic cancellations included basketball and football. He plays for Maryknoll under his father, three-time state championship coach Kelly Grant.
“Baseball is No. 1, has always been No. 1, but I enjoy playing basketball. It’s a fun game and it helps that our program is not too bad,” Grant said. “I always loved football when I was growing up, but our dad wanted us to focus on our other two sports.”
Older brother Payton Grant is a former two-sport standout from Maryknoll and now plays for UH-Hilo. Younger brother Parker may get more attention in the coming weeks.
“I just got a JC offer. I’ve been talking to a lot of D-I’s on the West Coast. A lot of them are going to see me in Arizona,” he said. “Next week is kind of a break, then we play in USAs June 22-29.”
Grant, who has a 3.5 grade-point average, also stays on the field in most games in between starts.
“I’m kind of like the backup for whenever they need me,” Grant added.
There will be a break from travel for a month or two after they return, he said.
“Fall season, I think this team will travel again,” he said.