By Marc Tobias
ROCKFORD -- St. Henry took the first step to defending its Midwest Athletic Conference title Friday night when it knocked off Parkway 10-5 in the league opener for both squads.
Andy Dues picked up the win for the Redskins by going five innings, allowing five runs -- two earned -- on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
Jake Long took the loss for Parkway allowing five runs, four earned, on six hits in 12Ú3 innings work.
"On the road against a quality ball club, we're leaving very happy," said St. Henry coach John Dorner. "We have some improvements to make and I'm sure Parkway feels that way too."
Dues got most of the run support he needed during a five-run second inning for the 'Skins.
Bryan Post, the first batter of the inning, reached when he was hit by a Long pitch. Brady Schmitz drove home Post with an RBI double to right-centerfield and then was subsequently drove home himself on a Dues RBI single.
Matt Schlater laid down a sacrifice to move Dues to second and Andrew Huelsman reached on a bunt. Andy Puthoff and Jeremy Schwieterman then plated both Dues and Huelsman with singles.
"They started hitting the ball and they were up on the plate and we were trying to hit the corner on the outside, but when their up on the plate that pitch looks more like its down the middle and we didn't mix up our speeds. We kept trying to pump fastballs in there and they did a good job of hitting balls up the middle and towards the right side," said Parkway coach Eric Stachler. "It was just kind of one of those innings where they fed off each other, we always say hitting is contagious and that second inning was a pretty good example of it."
St. Henry had 10 batters come up to the plate in that inning, with five getting hits, two reaching on walks and one on an error.
Puthoff finished by going 3-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBIs.
Parkway battled back in the bottom of the fourth when Dues appeared to lose some of his control.
Dues walked the first two batters of the inning, and then saw both of those runs score on a Ryan Kennedy sacrifice bunt.
Dues fielded the bunt cleanly, but Huelsman rotated over late from second and Dues' throw went into right field allowing both runs to score.
Steve Hays and Tom Bradley finished off the fourth with RBI singles that pulled the Panthers to within one run at 5-4.
Bradley had a fine game for Parkway, as he went 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
"We lost a little concentration in the third inning and we walked the first two batters in the inning, and that is kind of uncharacteristic of Andy," Dorner said. "We eventually got our composure and we're able to hold the lead and I think that was a key. Then once we punched another run across we got our confidence back, and playing with the lead was a whole lot different today. But you have to give Parkway credit, they were down 5-0 and kind of had the wind knocked out of their sails and they kept their focus and got right back in the game. Their going to be a good team and hopefully we can keep on improving too."
St. Henry was able to pad its lead by scoring two runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
Matt Schlater and Puthoff had RBI singles in the fifth while Schwieterman scored on a Parkway error and Dues had his second RBI single of the game in the sixth.
Dues went 2-for-4 with one run scored and two RBI.
Hays scored in the bottom half of the sixth to cut the lead back to 9-5, but St. Henry tacked on one more run in the top of the seventh when Post hit an RBI double that scored Puthoff.
St. Henry improves its record to 7-4 (1-0 MAC) on the year while Parkway falls to 5-7 (0-1 MAC).
The Redskins are back in action today at the Russia Invitational while the Panthers next game is Monday at Wapakoneta.