By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports
It wasn’t the five runs in the first inning that Parkway coach Sham Gabehart was happiest about in Tuesday’s District 1-5A baseball game against Captain Shreve. It was the six runs in the fifth inning by the Panthers that really caught his attention in what resulted as a 15-4 win at Shreve.
The Panthers came out swinging – Tristan Lape hit the first pitch of the game for a double – and Parkway was off and running to a 5-0 lead before Shreve ever grabbed a bat. Parkway got two more in the third to make it 7-0 and it looked like the Panthers would be able to get an early start on their homework.
But Shreve battled back with two runs in the third and two more in the fourth and suddenly it was a ballgame.
That feeling didn’t last long, however. A simple hit batsman with one out got it started and the Panthers followed with a sacrifice fly by Tanner Kirkland, a two-run single by Cade Josting, an error and a wild pitch to take all the suspense out of it.
“I like the fact that they responded in the fifth,” Gabehart said. “I thought we went to sleep a little bit in the middle of the game and I think we are growing out of that. We are learning how to play every play from start to finish. We are learning how to play the game and just stay in it.”
Parkway tacked on a bases-loaded walk to Josting and a fielder’s choice RBI by Ashton Martin in the sixth to complete the scoring.
Sophomore Sean Waits scattered seven hits and struck out six to pick up the win.
“He’s been steady all year,” Gabehart said. “Sometimes I think I’m too hard on him but he’s steady. He’s got a good fastball and a good curve ball and can pitch on both sides of the plate. With the injuries we’ve had, that’s been huge.”
Arm injuries to Lape and to Brandon Levy have forced the Panthers into Plan B in the pitching rotation, but they’ve stayed in the district race with a 3-1 record (10-10 overall).
“Our guys are improving,” Gabehart said. “They are hitting the ball where it’s pitched and are playing team baseball in regard to their approach at the plate.”
Martin and Tyler Bouillion each had two-run hits in the first inning. Lape finished with three hits and Martin and Josting each had three RBI.
Parkway will begin a huge two-game series against Benton on Thursday. “There are no days off,” Gabehart said. “You can get beat any day you go out there. That’s the grind in it. Everybody is well coached and competitive.”
Shreve, now 8-13 and 1-3 in the district, will have a two-game district series with Byrd beginning Thursday.
Photo by JOHN JAMES MARSHALL