NORMAL — The Heartland College baseball team gets another chance to face Parkland College on Saturday in a 1 p.m. doubleheader at Champaign.
That’s the good news for the 16th-ranked Hawks, who underperformed while being overmatched in a twin bill loss to the No. 5 Cobras, 21-3 and 9-2, Friday at the Corn Crib.
“That was one of those days,” Heartland coach Jimmy Frankos said. “When you play a team that’s pretty good and you don’t play well, you’re going to get beat exactly like we did.”
Parkland, which finished second at the junior college Division II World Series last season, strengthened its hold on first place in the Mid-West Athletic Conference by improving to 18-4.
“The conditions were a little offense favorable,” Parkland coach Jon Goebel said of a wind howling out to right field. “It was a tough day to pitch for anybody. I was happy with the way the guys stepped up to the plate and were able to do that against a really quality opponent.”
The Cobras (26-9 overall) were particularly venomous in a 15 (yes, 15) run fourth inning of the opener as the Hawks administered several self-inflicted wounds.
Parkland led 6-2 after three innings. Michael Bietermann had doubled in Josh Stivers, and Jake Marti singled and scored on a Billy Mote ground out for Heartland (21-12, 11-7).
Trevor Minder roped a wind-aided three-run home run as part of a five-run Cobras’ third.
Two doubles and a walk started the Parkland fourth, and Frankos brought in Huntley Hacker to relieve starter Andrew Zapka. After a bunt single and a strikeout, the next 13 Cobras reached base against Hacker and Spencer Smith.
In all, 21 Parkland hitters came to bat. Seven had hits, six were hit (by pitches) and four walked.
“I don’t know if I’ve seen a game spiral out of control like that,” said Frankos. "They made the plays, they swung the bats and they didn't give us free bases. That's why they won the two games."
Minder drove in seven runs in support of Parkland starter Ty Rybarczyk (6-0), who struck out three and walked none in the five-inning contest prematurely ended by the 10-run rule.
Jeremiah Lebron cracked a three-run homer in the first inning of the nightcap against Heartland starter Clifton Slagel. Minder added a seventh-inning blast, the Cobras’ third long ball to the short porch in right.
Sam Olson singled and scored on a Miles Simington ground out in the first, and Marti walked and came home on a balk in the fourth for the Hawks’ runs.
“We couldn’t get the bats going like we needed to and they were able to,” Marti said. “That’s baseball. The good thing is we have two more tomorrow (Saturday). We’re definitely going to do our best to come at them like they did us today.”
Slagel (4-1) absorbed the second-game loss, while Cobras’ starter Ricky Castro (3-1) was the winner.