By Gary R. Rasberry
ROCKFORD — Over the past couple of games, Parkway has been involved in one-run games and ending up on the bad end on the scoreboard.
Monday, the Panthers got to see how it feels on the other side scoring four times in the bottom of the seventh inning to hand St. Marys its first loss of the season in an 8-7 win at Don Black Field. Parkway improves to 4-6 on the season.
The Panthers trailed by as many as five runs in the game before finally getting on the board in the third inning. Things were looking good as Parkway got it to 6-4 in the fifth before the Roughriders scored once in the top of the seventh to make it a three-run game.
St. Marys received six strong innings from Andy Langsdon and looked to Jared Ackley to finish off the Panthers in the bottom of the seventh.
Things did not start well as Ackley walked Jason Shaffer on four straight pitches, then moved the runner around third and later home on wild pitches before walking Steve Hays.
After Ackley threw ball one to Tom Bradley, Roughriders head coach Fred Hullinger brought in Tim Danaher to get out of the jam.
Danaher opened things up by walking Bradley but redeemed himself after Jake Long tried to bunt the runner over a base. Danaher dove off the mound and made the catch on Long’s bunt, firing to first to double up pinch-runner Troy Gamble to make it two outs and nobody on.
Josh Crouch came up and doubled to the fence and Parkway head coach Eric Stachler sent in Dusty Zizelman to run for the catcher. Barry Peel, already 2-for-3 in the game, singled home the tying run and brought up Lucas Luginbill.
Luginbill worked the count to 2-1 before lacing a single up the middle. Peel, doing a mad-dash impression that would have made Hall-of-Famer Enos Slaughter proud, sprinted around third and slid in just before the ball reached home to end the game, sending half the Panthers team to pick him up at the plate and the other half out to greet Luginbill at first base.
“It was in the third when we pulled our way back into the game,” said Stachler. “We clawed our way back in, then we scored to make it 6-4. I told the guys we’ve been on the short end of these games, now it’s our turn to win one of these against an unbeaten St. Marys team.”
On the St. Marys side, Hullinger didn’t let the weather conditions, which were very windy with a cold rain making for dreary conditions at the end of the game, be an excuse for the Roughriders’ slipaway.
“If you want to be a good team, you have to hold those leads,” said Hullinger. “You have to give Parkway credit, they kept coming and coming until they got it done. One thing we didn’t show tonight was mental toughness.”
Brian Shaffer picked up the win with two innings in relief for the Panthers after Jordan Heckler went the first five innings, allowing just two earned runs and striking out five.
St. Marys got on the board early when Nick Pfeffenberger hit a two-run home run that brought home Matt Helmstetter in front of him. Langsdon helped himself as much as possible at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a run batted in. Tom Burke went 2-for-3 with two RBI.
Peel and Luginbill had the big hitting days for Parkway. Peel finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored and Luginbill was 3-for-4 with two runs batted in.
“I told Lucas it was his time at the plate,” said Stachler. “Barry got the single to tie it and I told Luke to end it. Barry knew it was the hit-and-run and Lucas did a good job hitting to the right-center gap. Barry was heading home no matter what.
“This is a huge win. We played well against Shawnee on Saturday. Now we have a win against St. Marys and we’ll go into tomorrow (today) against Crestview.”
St. Marys opens Western Buckeye League play today against WBL power Defiance at K.C. Geiger Park.