Most members of the baseball team know all about Ft. Zumwalt South star pitcher Gerrion Grim, a senior righthander, who's had a brilliant high school career and is headed to the University of Missouri to play ball next season.
But Grim isn't the first future Division-I college pitcher the Vikings have faced this season.
So they weren't intimidated one bit, despite Grim's reputation for having a 90-plus mile-per-hour fastball and a curveball that can turn batter's knees into Jell-O.
"He's a great pitcher no doubt, a definite ace," Parkway North head coach Fred Friedman said. "But we faced CBC's ace, and Kirkwood's ace, and we've seen plenty of good pitchers. So our guys know to just take our at-bats, and see what we can do."
What the Vikings did on Tuesday, in a MSHSAA Class 4 sectional playoff game at Ft. Zumwalt South High, is beat up on Grim and the Bulldogs, for nine hits and 11 runs, in an 11-1 victory, that will send Parkway North to the state baseball quarterfinals for the first time since 2003.
“We lost some tough ballgames, but we gained confidence, and we’ve become comfortable with who we are,” Friedman said. “We’re playing well, and now is all that matters.”
And the Vikings got it going right away.
Or at least they got to Grim right away, with a run on two scorching extra-base hits by seniors Connor Faron and Michael Bozarth.
Faron led off the game for the Vikes with a double into the left-field gap, then scored two batters later, when Bozarth tripled him home, on a similar ball that rolled to the wall in left-field.
After that though, Grim seemed to settle down, and even retired 11 of the next 12 North batters he faced, including six by strikeout.
And during that time, he even managed to start a Zumwalt South rally that tied the score, when he and teammates Jeff Smugala and David Gambino led off the fourth inning, with three straight hits that made the score 1-1.
"If you’ve been following us at all, you know it’s been kind of a storybook for a while. I guess the storybook just ended with a district championship,” Bulldogs coach Keith DeShurley said. “As much fun as we were having, I don’t think anybody wants that to end. But today, give them some credit. We made some mistakes, and they took advantage of it.”
Unfortunately for Zumwalt South, the mistakes began in the next inning, as Parkway North erupted for six runs in the fifth inning -- all of which were charged to Grim -- to blow the game wide open.
“I told Gerrion 100 times here, ‘you’re gonna put this on your shoulders because that’s the kind of kid you are,’” DeShurley said. “’That being said, we wouldn’t have been there without you.’
“He’s got a lot of great baseball ahead of him. He made this program better when he was here. I’m proud of him.”
Viking hitters Ben Campbell, Daniel Brodsky, Bozarth, and Justin Campbell all had single RBIs in the inning, with the big blow coming off the bat of junior Jonathan Shanker, who drove in two with a line-shot single to right-centerfield.
“We always try to tell guys to go with it, but they always want to yank it and try to hit it far,” Friedman said. “But the bottom of our lineup has done a great job in this playoff run of going the other way.”
North added four more scores in the sixth to finish the game off for sophomore Joseph Hope, who pitched a complete-game to get the victory on the mound for the Vikings.
“The first four innings, we kept battling, and then our hitters just crushed the ball,” Hope said. “It’s easy to pitch with a lead, all relaxed out there.”
Parkway North will now face SLUH in the state quarterfinals on Thursday.
That game will be played at Parkway North High with the winner advancing to the state championship semifinals in Springfield, on June 1 and 2.