Coming off a very successful regular season, which found the two Parker 12U league teams finishing one and two in the league with a record of 24-2-1 combined, the Pheasants headed to Webster for the state B tournament last weekend. Parker was paired with Hamlin and DeSmet in their pool and didn’t waste the opportunity, advancing out of pool play for the second straight year but falling in the bracket play.
In their opening round game of the tournament Parker got things going after winning the coin toss, Colin Robertson took the mound and went 25 pitches allowing just one run in the first inning. The Chargers were strong on defense, but lead off Levi Rand was able to score first for Parker, taking home on an overthrow and knotting things at one apiece. Also pitching for the Pheasants was Luke Travnicek, Brock Frederickson and Benson Jones. Both teams had solid defense on the night, but it was Jones who stepped to the plate with two outs, driving a single up the middle to score the tying run at 3-3. The final inning saw some of the best defense of the season for the Pheasants, as catcher Brady Beyer threw out a runner heading from first two second for the first out of the final inning. The second batter hit a line drive at second baseman Travnicek who made a wild stop on the ground, throwing from his knees to just get the runner at first for the second out. Jones then took the final out at the mound keeping things 3-3 with one chance remaining. Unfortunately for Parker the Chargers had just enough in the tank, taking the 7-8-9 batters in straight order before the Pheasants could get back to the top of the line up, leaving the game in a 3-3 tie to end the day.
In their second game of pool play Parker faced off against DeSmet with a shot at advancing on the line. Robertson started on the mound for the Pheasants, going 23 pitches. Parker then got the bats rolling recording six runs in the first inning off hits from Rand, Beyer, Robertson, Caleb Wieman, Brock Frederickson, Jones and Colton Davis. The Pheasants were in the drivers seat from there as Marquice Bortnem and Jack Anderson added to the scoring frenzy in the second and third innings and Rand was brought into pitch holding the Bulldogs to no runs. The Pheasants led 9-0 entering the fifth inning with leadoff Rand getting on off a long hit while Beyer was walked bringing Robertson to the plate. He hit a deep shot nearly to the fence, which was 301 feet out, bringing home Rand and the game was called early due to the 10 run rule.
Parker then waited as brackets in the 20-team tournament were finalized, with the Pheasants drawing the eight seed out of pool play, and facing off against BonHomme.
With the tournament only placing the top four finishers it was a must win game for the Pheasants, but the Cavaliers proved to be too much down the stretch with Parker hanging 0-0 through three innings, only to see three straight errors cost dearly, as BonHomme jumped ahead 5-0 in the fourth and held on for a 9-0 victory. Parker was led on the mound once again by their older players as Robertson, Frederickson and Jones finished out their little league careers pitching. The Pheasants had several opportunities with runners on, but could not drive a run in behind tough pitching and fielding from the Cavaliers down the stretch.
It was the second year in a row the Pheasants made the top-eight but couldn’t advance to the top four. Favorite Parkston went on to win the tournament in extra innings over Mount Vernon while BonHomme lost their final two games for fourth.
“It was a fun weekend with lots of memories made on and off the field,” said coach Shane Merrill. “These guys play hard and battle and even though we ended on a sour note it shouldn’t take away for what everyone accomplished this summer. Each of the players improved as the season went along and finishing first and second in league was such a great accomplishment. Those are great memories these guys will have forever and we are happy we could be a part of it.”
Parker will lose three key pitchers as they move up to the big field but have plenty of options as they look to make one more run in 2022.
“We will sure miss our older guys who helped lead this team and were such a huge part of the success. I have no doubts though if our other guys who got some pitching time this season work hard this winter we can be right back here next season.”