By Mark Ruschau
ROCKFORD — Going into Saturday’s doubleheader with the Van Wert Cougars, first year Parkway baseball coach Eric Stachler knew that he was going to have a short pitching staff thanks to having two of his pitchers declared ineligible.
With the short staff, Stachler was forced to throw guys into the fray who had very little or no varsity experience.
The results Stachler got from his depleted staff were mixed at best as the Panthers dropped two to the Cougars, 3-2 in eight innings in the opener and 17-8 in the nightcap.
The two losses leave Parkway at 2-3 on the young season. Van Wert remains perfect at 3-0 with the sweep.
In the opener Stachler got a great performance from starter Dustin Zizelman. Zizelman allowed just four hits and two runs over five innings, not allowing a base on balls and striking out six.
Zizelman was relieved in the sixth by Brian Shaffer, who pitched strong sixth and seventh innings — including getting out of a bases loaded, one-out jam in the sixth and a two on, nobody out jam in the seventh.
Shaffer ran into trouble in the eighth as he hit Josh Clouse to start the frame. After Aaron Gillespie popped out, Shaffer hit Nate Gillespie with a pitch.
Pinch-hitter John Moonshower then came through as he doubled to the gap in left center to score Clouse with the lead run.
The Panthers went down 1-2-3 in their half of the eighth to end the game.
The Parkway offense was kept in check for most of the game by Cougar starter Eric Putnam. Putnam allowed eight hits, just two earned runs, walked two and struck out 10.
“I thought Dustin pitched well today and I thought he pitched well in his first start,” said Stachler. “We thought about sending him back out in the sixth but his pitch count was high and this is just no reason to ruin an arm this early in the season, since he is going to be our ace for the rest of the season with the mishaps with some of the other guys.
“The eighth inning was a weird inning,” continued Stachler. “We made a couple of plays to keep ourselves in the game earlier in the game, but the eighth inning was definitely a (Continued from page 1B)different way to end the game.”
The second game was all Cougars as they roughed a trio of Parkway pitchers. Van Wert jumped on Parkway starter Matt High, who was making his first varsity start, for eight runs and seven hits in just 1 2/3 innings. The Cougars then pounded relievers Brian Shaffer and Chap Sapp for additional 13 hits and nine runs over the 5 1/3 inningsNate Gillespie led the Van Wert attack with three, including a double and a home run, for a total of eight runs batted in. Gillespie’s brother Aaron added four more hits and another RBI.
“We didn’t have too many arms left to put out there,” said Stachler. “We had a couple of games earlier in the week and we had some tender arms and again like I said earlier I will not ruin a pitchers arm by pitching him too much.”
Parkway is back in action on Monday hosting Bellmont