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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
South Bend starting pitcher Jarrod Parker, a Norwell graduate, struck out seven Wizards in the final game at Memorial Stadium. The Wizards will move into a new downtown ballpark next season.

Wizards' playoff hopes dashed

Close Memorial Stadium with blowout loss

The last game at Memorial Stadium had just about everything.

Woodburn’s Lloy Ball, fresh from winning a gold medal with the U.S. men’s volleyball team in Beijing, threw a perfect strike during pregame ceremonies.

Norwell’s Jarrod Parker, a first-round pick in last year’s draft, hit the mid-90s on the radar gun for Fort Wayne’s opponent, South Bend.

Yep, the last game at Memorial Stadium had everything – but a Fort Wayne win. The Silver Hawks took advantage of Wynn Pelzer’s wildness – and then just kept on hitting – to defeat Fort Wayne 17-6 in front of a festive 6,106 fans.

“I would have lost the house, the boat and all the cars if you would have told me the game would have been like this,” Wizards manager Doug Dascenzo said.

Talk about ruining a party.

The 17 runs were the most the Wizards had given up this season. South Bend had 19 hits.

Scott Moten threw the first pitch at the park, April 19, 1993, against Peoria. South Bend’s Bryan Shaw threw the last, getting Danny Payne to ground out to short.

More than 4 million fans attended games at Memorial Stadium. The team will move downtown next year.

Like the ballpark, and soon the team’s nickname, the Wizards’ playoff hopes vanished.

The loss, combined with Dayton’s 2-0 victory against Lansing, clinched the wild-card spot for the Dragons.

Parker did his part, surrendering just one hit in five innings. He overpowered the Wizards, striking out seven to improve to 12-5.

“I knew I was going to be a little pumped up but I just tried to relax and execute the plan we had,” Parker said. “Locating the fastball was the big key.”

Fort Wayne pitchers were not as sharp.

The usually reliable Pelzer gave up seven runs, six earned, in 4 1/3 innings. He walked four and struck out three.

The bullpen was just as ineffective.

Omar Gutierrez gave up four runs in two-thirds of an inning.

Aaron Breit had a worse night. The righty couldn’t get out of the sixth. He gave up six runs on eight hits in two-thirds of an inning.

South Bend scored seven runs in the fifth inning and added six more in the sixth.

“The fans hung in there,” Dascenzo said. “It’s unfortunate it had to end that way, but there’s still the loyalty and passion for baseball and they are going to have a great time at the new ballpark.”

Notes: The Wizards announced their postseason team awards. Infielder Lance Zawadzki was named the Physicians Health Plan Player of the Year. Jeremy Hefner and Pelzer were named the co-most valuable starting pitchers and Jackson Quezada earned relief pitcher of the year. Infielder Zach Brown was named teammate of the year and outfielder Brad Chalk received the community outreach player of the year.

lpope@jg.net

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