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2014-'15 Season Coverage
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Article updated: 5/13/2014 11:28 PM
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High fives all around for Parola, Mundelein
 

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High fives all around for Parola, Mundelein
 

"Everyone put up a five," shouted one of the players crammed into the post-game team photo.

So, as parents snapped away, each and every Mundelein baseball player raised an open hand, almost as if they were waving to the cameras.

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The "five-finger salute" was a tribute to head baseball coach Todd Parola, who was somewhere in the middle of the shot, surrounded lovingly by his happy, smiley players.

Each of the five fingers represented 100 Parola wins.

Mundelein's breezy, 12-2 five-inning win over host Stevenson on Tuesday was the 500th victory of Parola's 20-year coaching career that started in 1995.

In typical Parola fashion, the milestone wasn't well-advertised. In fact, the ever-humble Parola says he didn't even know a win at Stevenson would cinch it for him.

"I had no clue, no clue," an emotional Parola said with a lump in his throat and tears in his eyes. "But you look back at 20 years and there have been a lot of great players, and fortunately, I've had a lot of the same coaches with me.

"And it was kind of neat to have my son turn a double-play to end the game."

It was a storybook ending to a game for the scrapbooks for Parola. Son Derek Parola, the Mustangs' shortstop, helped get the last two outs of the game, then he quickly retrieved the game ball from first baseman Ryan Hollander so that he could present it to his dad.

Derek also gave his dad a big hug.

"It was definitely cool to be a part of the last play," Derek Parola said. "And giving him the ball, that's one of the few sensitive moments we've had since I've been playing with him.

"I remember his 400th win. That was my freshman year. I told my Dad that this is my 500th win, too. I've probably been to almost all of them, at least 400 of them. I don't think I've missed a game, unless I was playing at the same time."

It wasn't just Derek's defense that helped get this latest win for Mundelein.

Parola drove in a run with a double in a big second inning for the Mustangs (25-2, 7-2 North Suburban Lake Division). Mundelein rolled up 6 runs on 7 hits in the second to take an 8-0 lead.

No. 9 hitter J.T. Michalski kicked off the fireworks with a 2-run homer that sailed over the centerfield fence. Then Parola drove in Michael Metz, who went 4-for-4 on the day with a triple and two doubles. Luke Peterson also drove in a couple of runs with a double.

"We came out hot today," Derek Parola said. "We came out ready. The last five games, we've seen five really good pitchers and I think that helped us today to hit as well as we did."

Meanwhile, the hits for Stevenson (11-11, 4-5 NSC Lake) were few and far between.

First baseman Mitchell Goll drilled a 2-run home run in the bottom of the second inning to cut Mundelein's lead to 8-2, but that was the only hit the Patriots got.

Pitcher Adam Turner kept a tight leash on Stevenson. In going the distance, he struck out 3 batters, issued just 3 walks and allowed only one other batter (besides the two who scored on the homer) to reach second base.

"I wasn't aware of the 500th win until about the fourth inning," said Turner, who is 6-1 on the mound this season. "It was an honor pitching this game for Coach Parola. He's a great coach and I really look up to him.

"I'm just happy it was me. I stuck with my fast ball and trusted it and I tried to keep them off-balance with my slider. I battled back (after the home run by Goll). It woke me up. I had a purpose after that."

Mundelein kept adding to the scoreboard, scoring 2 runs in both the third and fifth innings. Metz drove in 2 runs with a single in the third, and the Mustangs scored their 2 runs in the fifth with two outs.

"(Mundelein) is just a better team than we are, that's all there is to it…better pitchers, better hitters, better fielders, better coaches," Stevenson coach Paul Mazzuca said. "Congratulations to (Parola). That's awesome. You obviously don't want to be on the wrong end of a milestone like this, but it's also an honor. And it's a testament to how great of a coaching job he's done for 20 years. It's amazing. I don't know how he has done it for 20 years."

Parola, who has won five conference titles since 2000 and has won 20-plus games in 17 of the last 18 years, can remember his first win, a victory in the second game of a doubleheader against Marian Catholic in 1995.

"But it's the relationships with the kids and the coaching staff that's the most memorable," Parola said. "A lot of great people, a lot of great players and a lot of great coaches, have been a part of this program. It shows that the program has had some success over the last 20 years. That's a really nice thing."

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