Collin Powers pitches Parker to state berth
JANESVILLE--The mission for Collin Powers this year was simple: When Parker’s ace pitcher Hunter Van Zandt wasn’t available, give the Vikings a few strong innings and a chance to win.
Powers’ assignment was the same Tuesday, and if head baseball coach Brian Martin gave out grades, the senior earned an A along with some extra credit.
The right-hander worked around five walks, allowing just one hit and one run in a complete game. Powers and Parker beat Verona, 4-1, in a WIAA Division 1 sectional championship game at Riverside Park.
“Collin really did step it up,” Martin said. “We had a guy in the bullpen pretty much all game, ready to go, but every time it got kind of iffy, he stepped up and made pitches.”
The only hit Powers surrendered came on Mitch Flora’s leadoff single through the hole between first and second base in the top of the third inning.
That was the only inning he was really forced to work out of a jam. The Wildcats sacrificed Flora to second with a bunt, and Powers issued a walk. The runners moved to second and third on a wild pitch, but Flora was cut down at the plate on a fielder’s choice for the second out.
However, Verona drew two more walks, including one that plated a run that made it 1-1 before Powers got the final out.
Up 4-1 in the top of the fifth, Powers threw three straight balls to the leadoff hitter and drew a visit to the mound by Martin.
“When Marty came out to me, he and (catcher Will Theisen) really got to me,” Powers said. “They told me if I had to, to just lob the ball in and get it across the plate, because our defense is one of the best.
“When you’ve got the faith in them, it makes it easier to throw the strikes across.”
Powers eventually walked the batter, but the Vikings got a double play. Powers faced the minimum 12 hitters over the final four innings.
“It didn’t necessarily feel like a one-hitter, but at the end of the day it was,” Parker center fielder Cullen Osmond said. “He did his job. He didn’t walk too many batters. He was throwing strikes and throwing outs.”
The outing should give the Vikings plenty of confidence heading to their first state appearance in 22 years.
Van Zandt threw a four-hitter in the sectional semifinal against Janesville Craig. So Parker’s one-two punch on the mound combined to throw 14 innings, allowing two runs on five hits with 10 strikeouts and five walks in sectional play.
The Vikings face the prospect of another doubleheader to open state play Tuesday. They’ll play Bay Port at 10:30 a.m., and if they win, they’d play again at 6 p.m.
Parker would love nothing more than to send Powers on another mission.