Shane Merrill | Writer
The Parker 10U State Tournament team headed to Salem last week to open up the tournament in pool play. First up for the Pheasants was Dakota Valley. In a change this year there was no two-class system, instead, A and B teams were combined for one tournament.
Parker played well against the Thunder, but ultimately fell in an exciting game 3-2. Parker pitched a variety, starting with Rush Bleyenberg, and going to Luke Travinicek, Marquice Bortnem and Jake VanVliet. Needing to win their next game to advance, Parker face Kimball-White Lake and throttled KWL, putting up 16 runs while only allowing 1. Defense was key on the night with Travnicek pitching nearly the entire stretch.
The win moved Parker to 1-1 for pool play, but with only four runs allowed the Pheasants advanced for the first time in several years to the championship round, drawing a five seed, and once again facing the pesky Dakota Valley Thunder.
Saturday found the Pheasants back in Salem for a rematch, with the winner advancing to the top-four and medal round. Parker entered the game as the visitors on the score board and were fired up, scoring seven runs in the first inning off big hits from Owen Travnicek, Luke Travnicek, Rush Bleynberg, Marquise Bortnem, Jack Anderson and others. The Pheasants looked to be in control, pushing a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the first, behind solid pitching from Caleb Wieman. Parker looked to maintain control in the second inning, with two more runners threatening, but ultimately left stranded, bringing up a wild bottom of the second, which saw DV gain back five runs, making it 7-5 before Parker could get out of the inning.
Unfortunately, the momentum had shifted from there, as the Thunder could not be denied going on to take the win 17-7 and sending the Pheasants home a day early.
“Obviously would like to get that one back,” said co-coach Shane Merrill. “We jumped on them early like we wanted, but a couple errors and a rough pitching stretch swung momentum rapidly. All in all a good tournament with great competition. Proud of how we competed.”
Normally the state tournament would end the season for most teams, however with the COVID late start to the season, Parker league teams will return the next two weeks for action, with both the Blue and Red teams chasing the league title.