Clutch Chiefland advances to final
Published: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
CHIEFLAND — Forgettable became memorable with just one swing for Cole Parks on Tuesday night.
There, with the weight of two earlier missed opportunities still on his mind, Chiefland's senior center fielder drilled an RBI double in the bottom of the ninth inning to plate James Miller, giving the Indians a come-from-behind 2-1 victory against tough Pierson Taylor in Tuesday's FHSAA Class 1A regional semifinals.
“This feels unreal,” Parks said. “Unreal.”
Having struck out to end the fifth and seventh with runners on second base, Parks said he came to the plate with two outs in the ninth “praying” he'd see a fastball for the first time all night. And after missing on one from reliever Kody Hastings (4-2) earlier in the count, Parks got one on the outside part of the plate and ripped it over Wildcats' center fielder J.T. Hearn's head to score Miller from first.
It was the second such big hit of the night for CHS (16-7), which will play at The Villages in Friday night's regional final. The Villages defeated Baldwin 6-5 on Tuesday.
The first came with two out in the bottom of the eighth with Taylor (20-7) ace Tanner Campbell looking like he was about to finish off an impressive shutout.
The right-hander didn't allow a hit until the sixth inning and finished with nine strikeouts. And an RBI single by Auston Wood in the top of the eighth gave the hard-throwing sophomore a 1-0 lead.
But one out after Payton Parnell coaxed a walk after an 0-2 count, Campbell tried to sneak a two-out, 0-2 curveball by Clayton Smith. The senior third baseman reached out and golfed a double to center, driving in freshman Dustin Aldrich, who was pinch running for Parnell, and sending the home crowd into its first frenzy of the night.
“Words can't describe how good that felt,” said Smith, who also picked up the win in relief to up his record to 3-1. “To be able to do that and for Cole to be able to make up for a tough game (with the game-winner), it's amazing.”
Indians' coach Kyle Parnell said Parks and Smith leading his team was fitting.
“They are two seniors who came up big in the biggest game we've played this year,” Parnell said.
“One extended it, one won it. You couldn't have asked for a better ending.”