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Springfield Bound: Parkway North In State Baseball Semis For 2nd Time Ever

Freshman pitcher Joey Reeves threw a complete-game masterpiece to lead the Vikings to state baseball Final Four for first time since 2003.

When he went to bed on the evening of March 30, head baseball coach Fred Friedman wasn't sure what the heck was going on with his Vikings.

The team had just played its first seven games of the season, and had only won two of them. And in fact, that particular night, North had just lost its fourth straight.

It was early in the season still, but Friedman was already concerned about his club.

But beginning that next day, things got a whole lot better for the Vikings, who snapped their losing streak with a win over St. Charles on the last day in March, then continued winning in April and May -- all the way through this past week's district and sectional championship games.

Thursday though, was North's biggest win of them all, as the Vikings knocked off perennial powerhouse Saint Louis University High, 6-1, to advance to the MSHSAA state baseball semifinals in Springfield, for just the second time in school history.

"It's an amazing feeling," Friedman said, after enjoying a wild victory celebration on the field with his players, assistant coaches, and a large contingent of Parkway North students body, which stormed the field after the third out.

“Seeing our student body run out on the field is really what it’s all about. It’s all about our kids, our school, our community. We had a great crowd today. We’re so thrilled. Second time ever being there. Couldn’t be prouder of everybody, from coaches to guys who work on the field, administration. We’ve come a long way. It’s been hard work, but they’ve stayed with it, stayed positive, and good things happen to good kids."

Parkway North's other trip to the state baseball semifinals came in 2003, when the Vikes also beat SLUH to advance to the Final Four.

That 2003 North club was a senior-laden group led by pitching and hitting star Matt Tesson, who went on to a standout collegiate career at UMSL.

But the 2012 Vikings are led by a pair of dynamite underclassmen pitchers, who have combined to win three intense playoff games in the last eight days that has Parkway North just two wins away from its first ever state baseball championship.

"We found out early on, when we couldn't beat the JV that we needed to do something," Friedman said. "So what better way to at least be able to beat those guys, than take a couple of their pitchers and put them on the varsity."

And those early-season call-ups proved a stroke of genius for the Vikings, as sophomore Joe Hope went 6-1 this season, and won the district and sectional championship games for North, with a wins last week over Francis Howell North, and this week over Ft. Zumwalt South.

Then on Thursday, it was freshman Joey Reeves, now 3-0 as a starter this season, who tossed a complete-game masterpiece to lift Parkway North to its biggest win in nearly a decade.

“It feels great,” Reeves said. “Just getting moved up to varsity is an amazing feeling. I don't know what to say. This is just unbelievable.”

The Viking hitters were also pretty good Thursday, led by junior Daniel Brodsky and senior Michael Bozarth, who each had two hits, and sophomore Garrett Taylor, who had three RBI.

North has now scored 39 runs in five playoff games, an average of 7.9 runs a game, which is one of the highest scoring averages of any team left in the state playoffs this year.

"We're just not intimidated," Bozarth said. "We know we can hit these guys, these 90-mile-per-hour guys that we've been facing a lot lately. And that's been part of the senior leadership that we've been getting. We just want to show guys that if you go up there confident, and take your at-bats, we can hit these guys. It's been working. It's been great."

North is now 21-9-2 on the season, and will play Willard (MO), in the state semifinals next Friday, June 1, at Meador Park in Springfield. The winner advances to play either Rockwood Summit or Liberty (MO) in the state championship game next Saturday.

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