Kade Bohlman and his Janesville Parker teammates have officially loosened up and started having fun.
A five-game winning streak and a pair of first-inning rallies will do that.
Bohlman blasted a long two-RBI double to bolster the early rally at Riverside Park on Thursday evening, and the Vikings’ four-run first was enough to help them earn a season sweep of Madison Memorial, winning 5-2.
“We’ve come a long way,” said Bohlman, Parker’s senior catcher. “There’s been a lot of team bonding, on and off the field. Late nights at Parker High School, running, conditioning. ... We’re just really starting to come together. It’s a lot of fun.”
Parker improved to 9-8 overall and 9-6 in the Big Eight. A victory today at Madison East would move Parker into a tie with Verona at 10-6 and could help the Vikings earn as high as a No. 2 seed in its WIAA Division 1 sectional bracket.
“I’m very happy with where we’re at. We’re playing our best ball right now, which is the right time,” Parker coach Brian Martin said. “Those first couple weeks after the snow, it was a grind. And the teams we played during that stretch ... a lot of teams would struggle.
“I think we learned from it. And now it’s definitely more fun to come out and play when you’re doing well.”
For the second time in three days, the first inning was the difference.
On Tuesday, Parker put up seven runs in the first against Memorial. On Thursday, four of the Vikings’ seven hits in the game came from the first seven batters and led to a four-run lead.
Seniors Kyle Birkett and Jordan Bailey opened the bottom of the first with back-to-back singles and moved up on a double steal.
“It all starts with Kyle. He gets us going before every game—cheering us on and making sure we’re talking,” Bohlman said. “It just goes on from there. Our minds are in the game, and we start going 110 percent.”
With one out, Dalton Madsen reached on an error that plated Birkett to make it 1-0.
One batter later, Bohlman fell behind in the count, 1-2, and said he set his mind on just putting the ball in play. But he did much more than that, belting a fastball to the wall in left-center to plate Bailey from second and Madsen all the way from first.
With two outs and Jadyn Ellis courtesy running for Bohlman, Chase Hamilton reached on an infield single, and Ellis rounded third and headed for home when the ball was thrown away.
“Just like Tuesday, it (getting a lead) makes it easier to go out and pitch,” Martin said. “We played good enough defense and pitched well enough and hung on at the end.”
Parker’s bats went silent after the early barrage, and at one point West sat down 11 straight batters.
But Vikings starter Casey Stone didn’t allow a runner past second base over the first five innings, never giving the Spartans a chance to claw back.
They finally got a run in the top of the sixth, but Parker answered in the bottom half.
In the seventh, after a pair of leadoff hits by West, Parker turned to Sam Nemetz in relief. He allowed a run-scoring groundout and a one-out walk but then induced a game-ending double play.
“Casey had good stuff, maybe not his best, but we were able to work out of jams and make big pitches,” Martin said.
Hamilton went 2-for-3 and stole a base for Parker, while Birkett and Bailey combined to steal five bags.
“There’s a lot of time left,” Martin said, “but we’re playing well.”
PARKER 5, MEMORIAL 2
Memorial (ab-r-h-rbi)—Smith, 2b, 3-0-0-1; J. Krumbach, cf, 3-0-0-0; Yu, ss, 4-1-2-0; Austin, 3b, 2-0-2-0; Jungers, 3b, 1-0-1-0; Murphy, dh, 3-0-1-0; G. Krumbach, p, 0-0-0-0; Hoeser, lf, 2-0-0-1; Sprou, 1b, 3-0-0-0; Greene, c, 3-0-1-0; Gonring, cr, 0-1-0-0; Sieloff, rf, 2-0-1-0. Totals: 26-2-8-2.
Parker (ab-r-h-rbi)—Birkett, ss, 3-1-1-0; Bailey, cf, 2-1-1-0; Garvoille, rf, 2-0-0-0; Madsen, dh, 3-1-0-0; Stone, p, 0-0-0-0; Zahler, 3b, 0-0-0-0; Bohlman, c, 3-0-1-2; Nemetz, 1b-p, 2-0-0-0; Ellis, cr-ph, 1-1-0-0; Hamilton, lf, 3-1-2-0; Klukas, 3b-1b, 3-0-1-0; Curtis, pr, 0-0-0-0; Schneider, 2b, 3-0-1-1. Totals: 24-5-7-3.
Madison Memorial 000 001 1—2
Janesville Parker 400 001 x—5
E—Memorial 3, Parker 1. LOB—Memorial 7, Parker 5. 2B—Bohlman. SB—Birkett 3, Bailey 2, Hamilton. DP—Memorial 1, Parker 1.
Memorial IP H R ER BB SO
G. Krumbach 6 7 5 3 0 5
Parker IP H R ER BB SO
Stone (W) 6 8 2 2 3 2
Nemetz (S) 1 0 0 0 1 0