Parkview draws upon early season, close losses to upend Evangel 5-4 in Class 3A semifinal _lowres

Associated Press photo by Roddy Johnson/The (Lake Charles) American Press Parkview Baptist's Hayden Nickens tags out Evangel Christian's Patrick Crouch in a Class 3A semifinal at the LHSAA state baseball tournament Friday in Sulphur.

SULPHUR — When Parkview Baptist lost a series of one-run games early in the season, some naysayers wrote the team off. Little did they know, those losses would help fifth-seeded PBS script a comeback victory in its biggest game of the year to date.

Adam Tarver pitched six innings of scoreless relief and provided a titanic two-run home run as Parkview pushed across five fifth-inning runs to defeat top-seeded Evangel Christian 5-4 in a Class 3A semifinal game that helped highlight Friday’s action at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA State Baseball tournament.

The fact courtesy runner Caleb Meaux scored what proved to be the winning run when Logan Toups drew a bases-loaded walk also was a part of the story of resiliency for Parkview (23-10), which advances to play the John Curtis-Iowa winner in the 3A title game at McMurry Park set for 6 p.m. Saturday. Evangel, the defending 3A champ, finishes 22-10.

“We fell behind 4-0, I believe it was in the bottom of the second, but we knew there was still a lot of ballgame left to play,” Tarver said. “In the beginning of the season, we probably lost nine or 10 games by one run. It was a learning experience. We learned to grind and have fun with the game.”

Shortstop Sam O’Brien, who finished 2-for-3 with an RBI was the only hitter for either team to collect more than one hit.

As big as his two-run homer off ECA reliever Hunter Shaw was, the performance of Tarver (7-3-1) on the mound was just as notable. He gave up just two hits and struck out five, setting ECA down in order three times, facing one batter over the minimum in the final three innings.

It was a different story for Evangel, which used five pitchers, including three during Parkview’s go-ahead inning. Any consternation fans had about Mitchell bringing on Tarver, PBS’ ace, to relieve Hunter Joubert were eased when Evangel was forced to bring in its ace, Blake Buckman in relief.

For both sides, it was a matter of finding a way to manufacture a win on high school baseball’s biggest stage. Parkview now seeks its second title in three years in Sulphur.

“I don’t care who it is, I like to win,” Parkview Baptist coach Darron Mitchell said when asked about the significance of beating Evangel. “Tim does such a great job, year in and year out. Great players. They’re a quality team, so it definitely feels good to win.

“If Joubert pitches like Joubert’s capable of, I really like our chances. He walked three guys in a row, and we self-destructed in that one inning. But we were able to settle back down, and we knew we could score some runs. We were squaring it up early, but we were hitting it right at them. We just had to hold tight. Our hitters were patient and made Evangel’s pitchers work.”

Joubert walked three to start the bottom of the second. A passed ball scored Joey Usie. An error also factored into the scoring as the Shreveport team went ahead 4-0. Tarver retired the first two hitters he faced to end the threat.

Evangel starter Shane Mears got off to a solid start, thanks in part to his defense. That ended when Parkview sent 11 batters to the plate in the top of the fifth inning. Toups and Eric Wharton singled to lead off the inning and were sacrificed to second and third.

A ground out by Pryce Fletcher scored Toups. O’Brien’s RBI hit brought Wharton home.

That’s when Evangel coach Tim Hulett brought Shaw in from second base to pitch to Tarver. Tarver deposited Shaw’s 2-2 pitch over the left-field wall to tie it. Hayden Nickens and Joubert followed with hits and Matthew Vicknair was hit by a pitch. Toups walked to bring in Meaux.

“In their big inning, we did everything we could to stop the bleeding,” Hulett said. “But we just couldn’t get it done. They hit a hard ball to the second baseman that was a tough play, then they hit a short ball to right field that was a tough play.

“They did a good job of battling at the plate and making us throw strikes, and we just couldn’t get that out.”