York County pitcher helps save Division I baseball team's season with career-best day
With his team's season on the line during his senior year, Nick Parker had the game of his life.
The Dallastown graduate pitched Coastal Carolina baseball to an upset 9-1 win over nationally ranked East Carolina in an NCAA Regional Tournament game Sunday night at East Carolina. Parker threw eight shutout innings and struck out 10 batters while giving up just three hits and two walks.
He set career highs in innings, strikeouts and pitches thrown (126) in the workhorse performance.
"He pitched one of the best games he's pitched in his career here," Coastal Carolina coach Gary Gilmore said in the postgame press conference. "He was in command of everything he did. Just awesome."
Coastal Carolina lost to East Carolina, 13-4, in a rematch Monday afternoon for the NCAA Greenville Regional Championship. Eastern Carolina now advances to the NCAA Super Regionals ― college baseball's Sweet 16 ― on Friday. The top eight teams in the country then advance to the College World Series in Omaha.
The Chanticleers (39-20-1) won three straight elimination games and ended No. 8 East Carolina's 20-plus game winning streak with Parker's performance Sunday. Their season is over after Monday's loss.
It wasn't Parker's first clutch performance in an NCAA Tournament game. As a freshman in 2019, he led Coastal to a regional win over Florida A&M by going five-plus innings and giving up three runs in a 9-4 victory.
But the 5-foot-11 right-hander reached a different level Sunday.
Always known more for his ability to hit the right spots than his pure power, Parker said in the postgame press conference his "cutter slider" was working well throughout the game. He said he felt relaxed once he got through the first inning.
East Carolina coach Cliff Godwin said his hitters never felt comfortable due to the way Parker controlled his off-speed pitches.
"He pitched his tail off," East Carolina's Zach Agnos said about Parker after the game. "He had just about everything working. He's a heck of a pitcher, man."
Learning from failure:York County pitcher finishes season with NCAA Regional win
According to media reports, Parker's hat and glove were inspected by umpires at one point during the game to check that he wasn't using a "foreign substance" to doctor the baseball.
Afterward, Parker said the exchange with the umpires was more lighthearted than intense.
"The one umpire asked me what kind of shoes I had on," Parker said. "I said: 'Under Armour.' He said, 'I'm just playing with you. Just be relaxed.'"
Parker went 6-3 this season. He dropped his ERA from 4.91 to 4.45 with Sunday's shutout. For his career, Parker is 13-9 with a 4.81 ERA and 182 strikeouts in 219 innings.
Parker is the son of York Daily Record executive editor Randy Parker.
It's possible Sunday was Parker's last game on the mound for Coastal Carolina. The fourth-year player has already earned his degree and pitched immediately as a true freshman. However, he does have an extra year of eligibility due to the bulk of the 2020 season being canceled due to COVID.
Parker was the GameTimePA YAIAA Baseball Player of the Year his senior year at Dallastown in 2018. As a junior, he helped the Wildcats reach the PIAA Class 6A title game, where they lost, 1-0, to Pennsbury. Parker pitched the team's state semifinal win that season.
Matt Allibone is a sports reporter for GameTimePA. He can be reached at 717-881-8221, email@example.com or on Twitter at @bad2theallibone.