Seniors bring title back to Parkland
As sophomores, Michael Jenkins, Harsha Bollu, Ryan Giovenco and Austin Mueller experienced their first Eastern Pennsylvania Conference championships.
As juniors, classmates Ethan Imler and Matt Mellinger joined Parkland’s core group of varsity players. While the group went without a title last season, it made sure to grab gold the first chance it got this year.
On Friday night at Hackett Park, the seasoned Trojan veterans led the way as the team knocked off top-seeded Liberty for the EPC championship.
“This feels awesome,” said Bollu, who came in relief and earned the save. “Two years, several of us were young sophomores on the (2015) EPC Championship team.
“After missing out last season as juniors, we all told ourselves last season we could do it ourselves again as seniors.”
On four days rest, after shutting out Northampton in last Monday’s quarterfinal, Jenkins gave all he was allowed to give on the mound, reaching his 100-pitch limit on the final batter of the fifth inning.
The senior right-hander even got the most out of his 100th pitch of the game. He scored his sixth strikeout of the game on the pitch and catcher Austin Mueller gunned out the Hurricanes’ Sam Kraihanzel attempting to steal to complete the double play.
“It’s what you play for all year,” said Jenkins, who earned the win on the mound. “It’s what you work hard throughout your varsity career for. It’s just awesome to be here. It’s a whole different kind of atmosphere. You’ve just got to have fun with it.
“It felt good knowing that I had a great defense behind me. That really helps. They played great once again.”
Jenkins scored the game’s first run on a Hurricanes’ fielding miscue, while Adam Mellinger scored on an Adam Smith sacrifice fly in the first for a two-run lead.
Jenkins recorded a sacrifice fly in the next inning, while Ethan Imler added an RBI-single to make it 4-0.
Christian Kinsley added an RBI-single in the fourth and a Mueller sacrifice fly capped the scoring in the sixth.
That was the inning that Bollu took the matters of the game into his own arm.
He started things off by striking out the first Hurricane batter he faced and Parkland’s defense provided two outs in the sixth, including a diving snag by Jenkins at third base. Bollu found his zone in the seventh to seal the deal.
He struck out the Hurricanes’ leadoff hitter, Kyle Hlavaty, and then ended the game with an exclamation point, striking out the Hurricanes’ Elias Gross. Parkland right fielder Adam Mellinger made a sliding catch to score the second out.
“I was just focused on throwing strikes and letting my defense do the rest,” said Bollu. “I just went out there and threw strikes. I was getting a little wild and letting runners get on, but I just started focusing on throwing strikes. I forced them to put the ball in play and make them earn it themselves. My defense spoiled any chance of that.”
After the Trojans hoisted the EPC trophy as a team, Jenkins stressed that they are not quite done making this a season to remember.
“This feels great,” Jenkins said. “This is only step two. We won the division. We won the league. Now we have districts. Hopefully we can make it to states after that. We’re feeling good right now.”