Wednesday, May 5th, 2021
Felver's gem lifts Panthers
By Tom Haines
MARIA STEIN - Of the 23 batters he faced on Tuesday, Parkway's Justan Felver sent 17 right back to the dugout.
Felver's 17 strikeouts came up two short of the school record, and the Panthers scratched out a run in the second inning to earn a 1-0 win over Marion Local in a Midwest Athletic Conference baseball game at the Airport.
"Justan pitched a fantastic baseball game," Parkway coach Luke Clouse said. "Anytime you get an outing like that, you should win. He gave us that opportunity in a tight ballgame."
Batting second for the Marion Local baseball team, Dylan Fleck laced a single into short right field. But that proved to be the only hit of the day for the Flyers, who succumbed to a pitching masterpiece.
Fleck advanced to second after Felver's pickoff attempt got away from first baseman Hunter Bruns, and in the third inning Alex Knapke stole second after a one-out walk. But in each case Felver struck out the next two hitters to end the threat.
Three more Flyers made it to first over the final two innings on a pair of walks and a fielder's choice, but none got into scoring position. Pinch runner Carson Griesdorn was caught stealing in the sixth, and Felver struck out the last two hitters in the seventh to close out the game.
"We gave them a run on an error, and we didn't adjust at the plate, pretty simple," Marion coach Mitch Hays said. "When you don't adjust at the plate, you have 17 strikeouts, it's hard to win."
Felver threw 96 pitches, 65 for strikes, and benefited from an aggressive Flyers lineup that went down swinging 13 times. It wasn't until the third inning that Felver reached a three-ball count.
"They need to work on basically having a two-strike approach the whole time," Hays said. "They've got a good pitcher on the mound, and we didn't adjust, we were still free-swinging. That's our inexperience, but at this point in the season, we've got to learn to adjust, especially in the seventh inning."
Marion got solid pitching from a pair of juniors, Gabe Link and Hayden Wibbeler, who scattered six hits and only allowed one walk between them. Link threw four solid innings before giving way to Wibbeler, who shut out the Panthers from there.
"That's what we've been missing the last couple weeks too," Hays said. "They came in and threw strikes, and we didn't give up a bunch of baserunners, which we'd been doing the previous six, seven, eight games. When we throw strikes, we can stay in the games. I thought both of those guys did a good job of doing that."
Link was charged with the game's lone run in the second after the Panthers mustered a two-out rally. Link had shortstop Devon Crouch down 0-2 with two outs before Crouch fouled off a pair of pitches, watched another one miss, and sent a line drive into left field for a single.
Catcher Bryce Stearns watched two pitches before launching a pop-up to the left side of the infield, which fell untouched between two Flyers as everybody reached safely.
With number nine hitter Aiden Anderson at the plate, Crouch stole third on a ball in the dirt, and Anderson sent a soft line drive over second base to bring Crouch home and make it 1-0.
The Panthers put a runner in scoring position in each of the next two innings, but couldn't bring them home, relying on Felver to preserve the narrow lead.
"Got the important one across," Clouse said. "Couple of guys at the back end of the order got on and we were able to get it done, get them over. It was a hard-fought game and I'm happy. It's been a little bit of a rough year and we've been able to string four together, so things are getting exciting, and at the right time, hopefully."
Parkway returns home to face St. Henry on Thursday, while Marion Local hosts New Knoxville.