Parker's walk-off grand slam shocks Craig
JANESVILLE Janesville Parker designated hitter Jeff Henke has some bragging to do.
Perhaps a lifetime’s worth.
Henke, who already had a go-ahead three-run homer in one of the Vikings’ regular-season wins over Janesville Craig, stunned the Cougars again with a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the seventh to carry Parker High (12-13) to a shocking 8-6 victory in a WIAA Division 1 regional championship baseball game here Friday afternoon.
Parker, which battled back from a 6-3 deficit in the final inning, gets to play host Tuesday in a 2 p.m. sectional semifinal game against Monona Grove at Riverside Park.
But Tuesday seems a long way off after Henke’s stunning blast.
“I hit the ball, and I thought, ‘Oh, my God, that’s probably going over the fence,’ ” Henke said of his blast over the 350-foot mark in left field. “This is bigger than the first homer I hit off Craig since this is the regional playoffs and all.”
It happened to be a regional playoff in which Parker was outplayed for 6½ innings.
“That was unbelievable with this being a Parker-Craig game and how poorly we played,” said Parker coach Brian Martin, whose team committed five errors. “That’s our guys, though. They surprise you, and they never give up and play to the last out.”
Playing to the last out proved to be a painful experience for the Cougars (13-14), who walked off the field in shock.
“Honestly, there really
wasn’t much you can say to make the pain go away,” Craig coach Victor Herbst said. “I could have talked to them for an hour about battling and doing things right. But when it’s your last game, it’s a bad feeling, no matter what.”
Craig had a good feeling for most of the game.
Jameson Henning of the Cougars opened the game with a leadoff double and made it 1-0 when he crossed the plate on a wild pitch. Craig extended it to 2-0 in the first when Jake Welch scored on a dropped pop-up.
The Vikings tied it at 2-2 in the bottom of the inning on Henke and Taran Kobs bases-loaded walks.
After Craig’s Cameron Wright and Parker’s Brady Brandt each drove in runs in the third to make it 3-3, Craig regained the upper hand in the fifth on two more crucial Viking errors that helped make it 5-3. The Cougars added one more run in the sixth on Tom Yaucher’s RBI single.
But things quickly unraveled for Craig in the bottom of the seventh. After giving up two hits and walk to load the bases with nobody out, Craig starting pitcher Cody Steed was replaced by Brandon Hughes.
The Cougar reliever allowed an RBI walk to Kobs, making it 6-4. That set up Henke’s clutch grand slam.
“I didn’t check how many walks we gave up today, but I’m sure it was a key factor,” said Herbst, whose team allowed three bases-loaded walks. “That’s one of the areas that plagued us over the season.”
Walks and Henke haunted Craig in the final game as the Cougars fell to Parker for the third time this season.
PARKER 8, CRAIG 6
Craig (ab-r-h-bi)—Henning, ss, 4-1-2-0; Quinn, 2b, 4-2-1-0; Meyer, c, 3-1-1-0; Yaucher, rf, 3-0-1-1; Wright, cf, 4-1-1-1; Miller ,dh, 3-0-0-1; Phillips, 1b, 4-0-2-0; Stearns, 3b, 3-0-0-0. Perkins, lf, 3-0-1-0. Totals: 31-6-9-3.
Parker (ab-r-h-bi)—Franklin, rf, 4-2-1-0; Johnson, 1b, 3-0-2-0, Welch, c, 2-1-0-0; Tr. Kobs, cf, 2-0-1-1; Henke, dh, 3-2-1-5; Brandt, ss, 3-0-1-1; Ta. Kobs, lf, 2-0-0-1; Bobzien, 3b, 3-0-0-0; Long, 2b, 3-0-0-0. Totals: 25-8-6-8.
Janesville Craig 201 210 0—6
Janesville Parker 201 000 5—8
LOB—Craig 6, Parker 3. E-Craig 3, Parker 5. 2B—Henning 2, Brandt. HR—Henke. SB—Wright 2, Tr. Kobs. DP—Parker 1.
IP H R ER BB SO
Steed 6 1/3 5 6 5 6 7
Hughes (L) 0 1 2 2 1 0
Kersten (W) 7 9 6 3 0 3