IOWA — Parkview Baptist’s difficult predistrict schedule has paid off in a big way.
With a trip back to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s state baseball tournament on the line, the fifth-seeded Eagles scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning to beat fourth-seeded Iowa 6-2 Monday in the Class 3A quarterfinals.
Parkview play top-seeded North DeSoto, an 8-7 winner over Eunice, in the Friday’s semifinals at McMurry Park in Sulphur.
“This group, only one or two guys ever had that experience, going (to the state tournament),” Parkview coach Darron Mitchell said. “If you come to Parkview and play baseball, you sort of have that expectation to get there.”
Parkview (18-17), which reached the quarterfinals last year and the finals in 2011, is over .500 for the first time this season.
“We’ve seen pitchers that are as good as the two guys Iowa put up there,” Mitchell said. “That’s what we’ve seen every game.”
“It means a lot to us this year, because we probably weren’t expected to after not being above .500 this season,” leadoff batter Brennan Bozeman said. “I think at the end of the regular season we were able to find it and we carried that over.”
Although Parkview pitcher Zack Hamilton (10-2) had seven strikeouts in the first three innings, Iowa led 2-0 with a run in the first and another in the third.
“They just came out hot,” Hamilton said.
Iowa pitcher Gabe Roberts was perfect through three innings, until Bozeman led off the fourth with a home run over the left-field wall.
“(Iowa pitcher Gabe Roberts) was doing a great job mixing up his fastball and his curveball, trying to get these guys to take an aggressive swing and Brennan took an aggressive swing and ran into it,” Mitchell said.
It was Bozeman’s first home run of the year; Iowa chose to walk him the next time he came up to bat.
“It came at the right time,” Bozeman said. “He just left that ball a little up and in and I didn’t miss it. I was able to turn on it.”
Before the inning was over, Parkview tied the score on Cody Daigle’s sacrifice fly, which scored Hezekiah Randolph.
“We hadn’t scored any runs at that point, and it made it a one-run game and it got us fired up a little bit,” Hamilton said of Bozeman’s home run.
Parkview broke a tie game in the top of the seventh, when the first four batters (the bottom of the lineup) all reached base and scored. Hayden Nickens led off with an infield single, Gage Pickett reached on a fielder’s choice, Blake Ballard on an error and Peter Currier on a walk.
Hamilton finished with 14 strikeouts and was the only Eagles batter with more than one hit, going 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.
“I was able to locate all my pitches, fastball, changeup and curveball, and keep them off-balance,” Hamilton said. “Defense backed me up and offense came around. It’s easy to close it with a four-run lead.”
“I can’t say enough about (Hamilton),” Mitchell said. “That’s the first time he’s been over a hundred pitches all year, he came in with a sore back, he tweaked it the other day and he just did a fabulous job.”
Iowa was looking for a second consecutive trip to the state finals.