VARDAMAN Before Tuesday's Class 1A state playoff showdown with Nanih Waiya, Martin Parker had pitched one game this season for the Vardaman Rams. A nagging shoulder injury had limited his appearances on the mound.
So when head coach Glen Hood checked with him earlier in the day to see if he wanted to pitch, Parker answered, "Sure, why not? My shoulder is as good as it's ever going to be."
Parker fired a no-hitter, striking out 11, as the Rams advanced to the quarterfinals with a 7-0 home win over Nanih Waiya in the deciding game of the best-of-three series.
"If you're a clutch player, you're supposed to be able to go in crunch time. Well, this was as clutch as it gets today," said Parker, whose teammates helped out with a six-run surge in the second inning. "If we didn't win today, it was over and we want to keep playing."
The Rams, who hope their 8-15 record won't draw any attention, will face the Biggersville-Ingomar winner in the quarterfinals. Nanih Waiya, the Division 4-1A champion, finished at 10-7.
"I know our record isn't great, but I think we're a pretty decent club," Hood said. "We've played a lot of tough teams and we haven't been healthy the whole year. We've hit the ball, we've been competitive and we've got some guys that want to win."
That was obvious early as the Rams hit the Warriors with a big second inning that settled the issue. Vardaman proved resourceful, as five of the inning's six runs were unearned.
After loading the bases with the help of a Nanih Waiya error, Martin White, Chris McGreger, Eric Easley, Kyle Peel and Parker chased home runs with hits. Easley had the big blow, a two-out, two-strike double to the left-field power alley.
"I felt strong early, but I'll tell you, those six runs were real important," said Parker, who also singled home a run in the first inning. "When you're on the mound and you get some early runs, it really helps your confidence."
Although the Rams kicked a couple of grounders that prevented Parker from recording a perfect game, they backed him up with a double play and a couple of nifty running catches in the outfield.
"If you told me that I would've thrown a no-hitter today, I wouldn't have thought that," Parker said. "All I wanted was to throw strikes and win the game. My shoulder's a little sore, but I'm not hurting too bad.
"Could I pitch again? Yeah, sure. If the team needs me, I'll pitch."
VARDAMAN 7, NANIH WAIYA 0
Nanih Waiya 000 000 0 - 0 0 3
Vardaman 160 000 x - 7 8 2
WP Martin Parker (1-1). LP Justin Myles. Multiple hits - (V) Martin Parker 2, Trent Hamilton 2. 2B - (V) Eric Easley. Records: Vardaman 8-15. Nanih Waiya 10-7.
Notes: Vardaman wins the series 2-1 and will face the Biggersville-Ingomar winner. Parker struck out 11 and drove in a pair of runs.