WARREN - When Charles Parks arrived at school Wednesday morning he had no idea that he would be the starting pitcher in a tournament baseball game later that day.
Maybe it was a good thing he didn't know sooner.
Parks, starting in place of Chris Turner, shook off an early case of nerves and pitched six strong innings for Warren G. Harding in a 9-2 win over Ashtabula Lakeside in a first-round game.
Parks allowed just three hits. He struck out five and walked two.
"If I had known I was pitching I would have been thinking about it all day in school," said Parks, who got the call because Turner had a school obligation. "I like it not knowing."
The challenge facing Parks was made more demanding when a thunderstorm caused a 40-minute delay in the bottom of the first inning. The stoppage didn't hinder Parks, who was making his first start.
"I was nervous, but I tried to do the best I could," Parks said. "After I threw my first strike I was all right. I wanted to get the first strike and then finish them off."
Raiders coach Ed Shaker appreciated Parks' effort. The Raiders advanced to play the top-seeded Boardman Spartans at 4:30 today at Boardman High School.
"Chuckii got us to tomorrow," Shaker said. "He pitched well. I was just going to go a couple of innings with him, but he got stronger as the game went on. His fastball and his off-speed pitch really took control of the game for us. Even with that little rain delay it didn't hurt him."
Parks received plenty of support after the Dragons (10-12) took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a run-scoring single by Jereme Smith. Kyle Cogley had three hits and drove in one run and Tyler Huff drove in two runs with a single in the second inning.
"When you get runners on base you have to take advantage of those opportunities," Shaker said. "They don't come around very often."
Dragons coach Andy Kiphart wasn't pleased.
"Mentally we weren't ready to play today," Kiphart said. "When you're not, you make mistakes. It's very surprising and very disappointing. This is your last chance to play for something and you don't come in mentally prepared. It's cause for wonder. I have to take part of the blame for that. I won't happen again. I guarantee that."
The Raiders sent eight batters to the plate in the third inning to score three runs. Derrick Brogdon, who reached on an error, scored on a single by Brock Bogan, who was later thrown out at home plate. Cogley tripled and scored on a single by Ryan Matthews, who also scored.
The Raiders added single runs in both the fourth and fifth innings. A sacrifice fly by Bogan scored Justin Magazine in the fourth, and Cogley singled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Mike Gadzalski in the fifth.
A sacrifice fly by Bogan scored Magazine in a two-run seventh inning. Brogdon singled and scored on a single by Cogley.
Frank Clayman tripled home Adam Bahr in the seventh for the Dragons.
The Raiders will take a 14-9 record and the fourth seed into today's game against the Spartans.
"We're going after them," Shaker said.