Worth waiting: Parker baseball tops Craig in 10 innings
JANESVILLE--Hunter Van Zandt never felt a thing as the innings started piling up.
The adrenaline of a rivalry game will do that to a pitcher.
Janesville Parker’s sophomore left-hander battled through a marathon against Janesville Craig on Friday night. Van Zandt pitched all 10 innings, allowing six hits and two walks while striking out seven to lead the Vikings to a 3-2 victory in a Big Eight Conference classic at Riverside Park.
Parker remained unbeaten in the Big Eight at 8-0 and is 9-1 overall. Craig is 4-2 and 7-2.
“Fortunately, we got a couple of double plays and I was able to keep my pitch count down,” said Van Zandt, who needed 115 pitches and was helped by three twin killings. “In a game like this, your adrenaline is just going, and you don’t feel it.”
The game was billed as one of the most anticipated crosstown baseball meetings in recent memory, with both teams in the race at the top of the Big Eight standings.
The two teams didn’t disappoint, trading one-run leads before the Vikings broke through in the 10th.
“It was worth the price of admission,” Craig coach Vic Herbst said. “We had our opportunities. We had the winning run scoring and fell down. We had some miscues on defense, and there are things we can work on.
“But it was a great high school baseball game, and we came up on the wrong end.”
After a pair of quiet extra innings, Parker left fielder Logan Coulter led off the top of the 10th with a double to left field.
Catcher Will Theisen came to the plate and laid down a sacrifice bunt, but Craig threw the ball away attempting to get Coulter out at third base. He came around to score the eventual winning run.
“Logan’s hit was huge,” Parker coach Brian Martin said. “With our top hitters, it’s only a matter of time. We’re going to get guys on base, and thankfully we took advantage there.”
Craig took the first lead of the game in the second inning. Designated hitter Alex Marro led off with a single, stole second and advanced to third on a sacrifice. He came home on Evan Spry’s sacrifice fly to left.
Parker answered in the top of the third when third baseman Brock Welch led off with an infield single and came all the way around to score on right fielder Conner Osmond’s double into the left-field gap.
The Vikings took their first lead in the sixth. Theisen singled up the middle to start, moved to second on a sacrifice and scored on second baseman Dominick Gruenwald’s two-out double to left.
“Everyone had some sort of play that hurt,” Martin said.
Craig scored with its back against the wall in the bottom of the seventh. Kevin Brandt reached on an error, moved to second on a sacrifice, and after a walk and a fielder’s choice, the Cougars had runners on first and third with two outs.
Center fielder Wyatt Olson flared a single into right field to plate the tying run. The Vikings attempted to throw Cougars left fielder Charlie Platts out at third, but the ball sailed to the fence. Platts turned for home but tumbled on the wet field and was thrown out, sending the game to extra innings.
The Cougars got 5 2/3 solid innings from Alex Faust, who allowed two runs on six hits, with two walks and three strikeouts. Connor Perkins threw 4 1/3 innings of one-run relief, with five hits, a walk and two strikeouts.
“We battled and did a good job,” Herbst said. “But Van Zandt, I’m going to tip my hat to him. He went 10 innings and that’s a great effort on his part.”
Van Zandt faced four batters or less in eight of the 10 innings.
“He hadn’t thrown in a while, and he isn’t going to throw again for a while, so I felt more than comfortable riding him out a bit,” Martin said. “What a great game.”
The teams will face off in a rematch May 29.
“Against the crosstown rivals,” Van Zandt said, “it just feels good to get a W and keep that streak going.”