Sun Prairie beats Parker for Big Eight crown
Janesville Parker's baseball team was one strike away from the school's first Big Eight title since 1995.
Michael Marchese spoiled the party plans.
The Sun Prairie senior delivered a two-out, two-strike double in the top of the seventh to drive in the tying run and scored on Lee Brekke's RBI single as the Cardinals rallied for a 4-3 win.
Sun Prairie finished 16-2 in the Big Eight and won its fourth straight conference title. The two-time defending Division 1 state champions dealt Big Eight Player of the Year Hunter Van Zandt his first loss of the season.
Parker, which finished 15-3 in conference play, had its title hopes squashed when Sun Prairie threw out Zach Bailey at home on a close play to end the game.
“We just came up a little bit short,” Parker coach Brian Martin said. “But give them credit. That's why they're the two-time defending state champions.”
Van Zandt, who came into the game with an 8-0 record and a 0.43 ERA, took a 3-2 lead into the seventh.
Justus Benson began the inning with a pinch-hit single. Justin Krebs' sacrifice moved Benson to second before Conner Funnell lined out for the second out.
Van Zandt then got ahead of Marchese 1-2, but the Cardinal batter sent the next pitch over left fielder Logan Coulter's glove to score Benson and tie the game. Brekke followed with a sharp single to right to score Marchese and give the Cardinals a 4-3 lead.
“Sometimes winning a Big Eight title is tougher than winning a state title,” Sun Prairie coach Rob Hamilton said. “It's such a marathon that you have to be ready to go each and every game.
“Our kids battled and beat the player of the year in our conference. I couldn't be more proud of them.”
Parker had a chance to tie in the seventh but came up inches short. Bailey walked with two outs and tried to score on Logan Coulter's single when Ryan Curran bobbled the ball in right.
The relay throw to Michael Garvey was perfect, and he applied the tag to a sliding Bailey that ended the game.
The Vikings took a 3-2 lead in the fifth on Coulter's RBI triple and a balk.
Van Zandt went the distance. The sophomore left-hander allowed eight hits, struck out three and did not walk a batter.
Parker enters WIAA Division 1 play as the No. 1 seed in its regional.
“This one is going to sting a little bit, but we've got some bigger things we want to accomplish,” Martin said.
SUN PRAIRIE 4, PARKER 3
Sun Prairie (ab-r-h-rbi)—Funnell, cf, 4-1-1-0; Marchese, lf, 4-1-1-1; Brekke, 1b, 3-0-3-2; Curran, rf, 3-0-1-1; Reuter, 3b-p, 3-0-0-0; Gavey, c, 3-0-0-0; Soma, cr, 0-0-0-0; Oswalt, 2b, 3-0-0-0; Lund, p, 2-0-0-0; Benson, ph, 1-1-1-0; Krebs, ss, 2-1-1-0; Keel, p, 0-0-0-0. Totals: 28-4-8-4.
Parker (ab-r-h-rbi)—Cu. Osmond, cf, 4-1-1-0; Bailey, ss, 2-1-1-0; Coulter, lf, 4-1-3-1; Theisen, c, 3-0-1-1; Benway, 1b, 2-0-0-0; Powers, dh, 3-0-2-0; Van Zandt, p, 0-0-0-0; Olin, 3b, 2-0-0-0; Gruenwald, 1b, 3-0-0-0; Yerke, rf, 2-0-0-0; Co. Osmond, ph, 1-0-0-0. Totals: 26-3-8-2.
Sun Prairie 000 020 2—4
Janesville Parker 001 020 0—3
E—Parker 2. LOB—Sun Prairie 6, Parker 5. DP—Sun Prairie 1. SAC—Krebs, Bailey. SB—Soma. 2B—Marchese. 3B—Coulter.
Sun Prairie IP H R ER BB SO
Lund 4 1/3 6 3 3 1 5
Benson (W) 1 2/3 1 0 0 0 1
Reuter (S) 1 1 0 0 1 1
Van Zandt (L) 7 8 4 4 0 3