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EVANSTON — Three catchers have started the majority of the Maine South baseball team’s games the last five years, and they share some of the same characteristics.
The three — 2012 graduate Jimmy Frankos, 2013 graduate Zack Jones and junior Zach Parker — are quite talented. Frankos currently plays for Iowa and Jones is at Harper College, while Parker had a .324 average and a .405 on-base percentage as of Monday.
The catchers’ impact has gone far beyond skill and production, though. They’ve all been selected as Maine South captains, distinguishing themselves as team leaders capable of handling the Hawks’ pitching staff.
It’s not a coincidence that Parker is similar to Frankos and Jones, either.
“When I was a freshman, Jimmy was the senior catcher,” Parker said. “He was a three-year varsity captain, so he’s one of my role models. I look up to him. Then last year, when I got called up [to varsity], Zack, even though he was injured, he went to do drills with me at practice. He sort of guided me through the varsity season and how to play at the varsity level.”
Parker played the final two-and-a-half weeks of the regular season a year ago while Jones was out with a concussion. Parker said that experience helped him acclimate to a new level of baseball.
Parker is patient and relaxed at the plate, possessing a good eye and surprising speed when he reaches base.
All of those traits were evident in Evanston’s 3-2 victory over the Hawks on May 8. Parker reached base three times — he walked twice and was hit by a pitch — and he was fast enough to move into scoring position by advancing to second on a passed ball in the third inning and a wild pitch in the fifth.
He also has a very good arm and Maine South coach Bill Milano added that Parker receives the ball well behind the plate. That’s important because Parker catches a staff that features seniors Bobby Pennington, a hard-throwing right-hander with a nasty curveball, and Zach Parker’s older brother Gehrig Parker, a lefty whose out pitch is a knuckleball.
“He’s been very solid behind the plate,” Milano said. “He’s great with the pitchers and his hitting has been solid as well. He’s been great. He’s done what we’ve expected him to do.”