SPRINGFIELD, MO. -- baseball coach Fred Friedman has said several times that he has no problem turning the ball over to his two youngest players, sophomore Joe Hope and freshman Joey Reeves, even with the Vikings playing their biggest games of the season.
That trust has paid big dividends through the playoffs, as Hope and Reeves have taken turns tossing complete-game victories for North in the district and sectional championship games, as well as last week's state quarterfinals.
But on Friday night, Hope made his coach look like a genius, with a performance for the ages, as he tossed a no-hitter to lead Parkway North to a 1-0 win and a trip to Saturday's Class 4 state championship game.
Hope struck out seven, walked two, and had two batters reach base on errors. But that was the only trouble he faced all night, as he baffled Willard hitters all night.
In fact, only Willard's Jed Owen got as far as second base against Hope. And that was in the seventh inning.
But Hope stranded him right there, as he struck out Will Atchison for the second out, and then retired Tyler Hampton on a come-backer to the mound for the final out of the game.
Parkway North got the only run of the game in the third inning, when junior Daniel Brodsky walked and stole second with two outs, then came around to score on a line-shot basehit to left by senior Michael Bozarth.
That was all that spoiled Willard pitcher Anthony Caenepeel's line on the night, as he threw six brilliant innings for the Tigers, allowing just four hits and two walks, while striking out 10.
Hope's work is believed to be just the 13th no-hitter thrown in MSHSAA Final Four history, and puts North in position to face league rival Rockwood Summit in the Class 4 state championship game, at 4 p.m., on Saturday. Joey Reeves, a freshman, who like Hope wasn't on the varsity squad when the season started, will be on the mound in the biggest game not just for the season, but in school history.
The matchup will be the first all-St. Louis state baseball championship final since Vianney beat Hazelwood Central for the title in 2006.
It will also mark the first time that either Parkway North or Summit has ever played in the state championship game in baseball. So somebody from the Suburban South Conference is going to be bringing home its first state baseball championship in its history.
And regardless of what happens, Saturday's matchup will be hard-pressed to top what transpired on Friday.
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