Junior Andrew Wheeler led the West Plains Zizzers past Parkview Monday night, 8-6, thanks to his stellar pitching performance and solid at-bats.
“You saw Andrew for six innings being about as efficient as he could possibly be in by far his best start of the season,” said head coach Zeb Wallace.
In addition to earning the win on the mound, Wheeler was three-for-three at the plate with four RBIs and two runs scored. He held Parkview scoreless in four of the six innings pitched, but the Vikings put up five runs in the sixth to bring the game within one score.
“You hate to see a five-run inning, but that’s not all on him,” said Wallace. “Part of it’s the defense, and part of it, that’s baseball. But I was really proud of the way our defense stepped up.”
After two scoreless innings, the Zizzers were first on the board when Camdon Murphy and Austin Wood reached on singles. Wheeler drove in a couple of runs with an extra base hit to help his own cause, and Evan Washington picked up an RBI, scoring Wheeler.
Parkview’s Max Koeppe scored on a leadoff double to open the fourth and Coy Fox recorded the RBI with one of his three hits on the night. The Vikings trailed 3-1 until the bottom of the fifth.
Dylan Dunbar had a big fifth inning for West Plains with two RBIs, knocking in Evan Washington and Wheeler, and Wheeler added another pair of RBIs as well to score four in the frame.
The Vikings opened the sixth with patience at the plate. They worked a pair of walks and added timely hitting to their game. Sophomore Deegan Cessna came up with a big hit to knock in two, changing momentum for his team. “He came through with that big hit to drive in two runs to really get us going,” said head coach Beau Davis. Fox followed with a double and the Vikings narrowed their deficit to one run.
That’s when senior Billy Holloway stepped in as closer and walked away with the save, leaving two stranded in the final frame. “Billy came in and his senior leadership slammed the door on the mound. He does a good job,” said Coach Wallace. “Overall, it’s a really good win. It’s a conference game, but it’s a district game as well, so it will help us a lot seeding-wise. We’ve actually done pretty well; we’re 6-6 and (the win) got us back to .500, but I think we’re where we need to be seeding-wise.”
“We had a little bit of jet lag, I think,” said Coach Davis of his Vikings. “You look at the box score and we didn’t really do anything in the first three innings. We moved the game back a day, so now I had to put my starter on a pitch count because we have a double header Saturday. So that kind of hurt us a little bit.” Coach Davis said pitcher Nick Young threw a great game. “He doesn’t really get rolling until he’s 50s, 60s, when he’s around that pitch count, and he started that today and we had some really good innings there, and then I had to pull him. But we eventually got the bats going. We were able to put up five runs in the sixth and bring it back into a one-run ballgame and then we kind of just ran out of steam at the end. I thought the boys fought hard, we were right there with them. I was really happy with the whole team effort.”
The Zizzers improve to 6-6 and face tough district and conference foes on Thursday, the Kickapoo Chiefs. The Vikings host Parkview Friday and compete in a double header against Aurora and Forsyth on Saturday. Their record stands at 6-11.
Parkview 0 0 0 1 0 5 0 6
West Plains 0 0 3 0 4 1 8