By Jarrett Guthrie
TAMPA – There was no eye-popping stat in favor of Berkeley Prep on Friday night against district rival Calvary Christian. No Bucs player even booked a multi-hit game. But what the Buccaneers did do, was play near-perfect defense and capitalize on early chances to avenge March 12th’s perfect-game loss, by defending its home field in a 3-1 victory.
“I wouldn’t say we excelled in any one part of the game today,” Berkeley Prep coach Richie Warren said, “except in our willingness to compete, laying our hearts on the line for each other.
“You start to do that and you have a chance to win games and beat teams that are thought very highly of in certain publications.”
Calvary Christian (ranked No. 10 in the nation according to the most-recent MaxPreps “Xcellent Rankings”), took advantage of a little early shakiness from Berkeley Prep starter Will Parkinson, as a pair of walks and a pair of hit batters setup a first-inning run on a Blake Opie RBI single. But Parkinson fielded a ball off the mound to end the bases-loaded threat without further damage.
Berkeley Prep (12-2, 5-1 in Class 3A-8) responded immediately as sophomore Cade Kurland walked, Andrew DiMisa singled and Jonathan Bruno walked to load the bases. Kurland tied the game on a wild pitch, just moments before James Hankerson did a job slapping a groundball to deep short for an RBI, plating the eventual game-winner.
Parkinson (3-1) worked through 3 1/3 innings, enough to earn the win, while striking out five, walking four and giving up two hits. After the game, the Columbia-signed senior said he was focused on keeping his team in it after a tough outing in the two teams’ previous meeting.
“Two times I’ve faced them, I just don’t think I’ve had it at all,” Parkinson said. “Battled the first game and it didn’t go my way. Battled today, my defense played sensationally, we got a few runs and it started to build.”
That previous game, a 10-0, five-inning mercy-rule saw USF commit Jack Cebert throw a perfect game, so taking advantage of early walks and the wild pitch against the righty in the first was crucial for the win.
“Cebert is a great arm, obviously perfect-gamed us the last time we saw him,” Warren said. “But I think we capitalized on some of his missed pitches early on, which is good because once he’s settled in, he’s tough.”
The Bucs added to their lead in the second as Julius Pfau fell behind 0-2, before working a walk, followed by a Knox Meier sac, and was headed for third on a sac fly to deep center off the bat of Owen McElfatrick. However, Berkeley Prep caught a bit of a break on the catch as Warriors leftfielder Miles Curley collided with Opie in center after the catch, and the ball got away allowing Pfau to show off his speed and cruise easily across the plate.
“Jules scoring from second on a sac fly,” Warren said, “stuff like that – that’s just how you find a way. We just played hard tonight.”
In the fourth, Berkeley Prep turned to Evan Parmer on the mound, who admitted he was in a bit of a fight with his own secondary pitches, but produced 2 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit while the Buccaneers defense – especially the left side of the infield in the third baseman Bruno and shortstop Kurland, and the centerfielder Pfau – played very well.
“I’ve been battling my off-speed pitches, I think I threw a changeup and two sliders,” Parmer said. “But my four-seam and two-seam really worked for me, they battled, I fell behind a few times, but didn’t let it get to me. Most importantly, I had fun tonight.”
Cebert struck out six in five innings of work for Calvary Christian (12-2, 4-1 in 3A-8), but the Warriors offense couldn’t add more to their first-inning run.
DiMisa worked the final inning for the Buccaneers, and did appear to be in some trouble after walking a hitter, and having him move to second before a long fly ball to centerfield got over Pfau and a run crossed the plate. However, the narrowing of the lead was short-lived as the umpire on the bases called a balk prior to the pitch having been thrown, and under the FHSAA rules the play was ruled dead. DiMisa finished off his fourth save of the year with a pair of plays made behind him in the outfield, stranding the runner at third.
The series now evened, Parkinson said the win Friday was nice, but his team’s celebration will be short-lived.
“At the end of the day, we’re just half way through with them,” Parkinson said. “We get to play them two more times this season, and I’m really excited to see them again.”
Berkeley Prep 3
Calvary Christian 1
CC 100|000|0 – |1|3|0
BP 210|000|x – |3|4|0
W – Parkinson (3-1); L – Cebert (3-2); S – DiMisa (4)
Records – CC (12-2, 4-1 in 3A-8); BP (12-2, 5-1 in 3A-8).