Platte County, Park Hill, PH South heading for district showdown

Postseason baseball begins this weekend when district tournaments get under way. A common theme for area high school teams will be familiarity with their district foes. In the Class 5 District 16 tourney that will be held at Staley High School, three of the teams are in the same conference and all the teams have played each other this season at least once. The field includes Park Hill, Park Hill South and St. Joseph Central, all members of the Suburban Conference Red Division, Oak Park and host Staley, members of the Suburban Conference White Division and Platte County. Park Hill has played nine games against the rest of the district field, including three games against rival South, who is 6-2 against district teams. Play begins May 17 when third-seeded Platte County, 11-9, takes on sixth-seeded Oak Park, 7-20. Fourth-seeded St. Joe Central, 10-11 and fifth-seeded Park Hill, 12-16, square off after that game. Staley, 22-5 and the No. 1 seed, and second-seeded Park Hill South, 17-10, will face the winners in semifinal action May 20, with the title game set for May 22. For Platte County, which holds a 2-2 record against district foes, defense will be a key. The Pirates have been plagued at times this season by a shaky defense. Case in point: in a double-header loss at Liberty North last weekend, Platte County had more errors — 11— in the two games than hits, six. “We have to clean up some things defensively,” Platte County coach Rob Davenport said. “When you make mistakes against good teams they will make you pay. As we move through the postseason the opponents keep getting tougher.” Prior to the two losses to Liberty North, Platte County won two other games. The Pirates topped Winnetonka 6-1 May 6 in a third meeting between the two clubs. Jerod Thomas and Matt Mefford drove in two runs each and Josh Eastman picked up the win with six solid innings on the hill. On May 9, Platte County walloped Grandview 19-0. The game was decided quickly as the Pirates plated 14 runs in the first three innings. A groundout by Topher Kilkenny and a two-run single by Kodee Martin in the first inning and an RBI single by Nabil Ahmad, an RBI triple by Justin Mitchell, an RBI double by Thomas, a two-run single by Martin, and an RBI single by Nic Blaha during the second inning fueled the early onslaught. Park Hill lost four of six games it played last week. The Trojans beat Ruskin 15-0 May 5, then lost both games of a doubleheader to Park Hill South May 7. The Trojans lost the first game 1-0 despite a complete-game seven-hitter from starting pitcher Will March. South starter Jake Purl threw a two-hitter, South won the second game 11-4 behind starting pitcher Ryan Cockriel and Richard Fullerton’s three hits. Park Hill got a three-run home run from Kyle Francis. Park Hill beat Truman 5-1 May 9 as Francis went the distance on the mound and struck out nine and John Balsamo had two hits, three runs scored and two stolen bases. On May 10, Park Hill lost a doubleheader — 4-3 to Jefferson City and 11-7 to Staley in a game called after six innings because of lightning. Caleb Sneed was the hard-luck loser in the first game despite striking out 10. In the second game, Ricky Trammell and Clayton Cole each had two RBI. In Park Hill South’s other action, they routed Ruskin 17-0 May 9 for their fifth straight win as pitcher Dalton Lightner recorded the shutout. WEST PLATTE NO. 2 SEED AT CLASS 2 DISTRICT 16 TOURNAMENT If the West Platte Bluejays are to win a third straight district title, they will have to beat a team they barely got past last week and a team they have already lost twice to this season. The Jays, 12-6, are the No. 2 seed in the Class 2 District 16 tournament, which begins May 17 at North Platte High School in Dearborn. They will face the Mid-Buchanan/Tarkio winner in semifinal action May 19. East Buchanan is the top seed and will face the North Platte/KC Lutheran winner in the other semi; the final is set for May 21. “We are pretty happy with our two seed,” West Platte coach Tanner Lawson said. “However, Mid-Buchanan is a much improved very young team. East Buchanan is the one seed, we have seen them twice. Our pitching was decent in both games but our fielding and hitting let us down. If we meet them, we will have to play a very solid fundamental game and not beat ourselves, to give us a shot. But, before that, we will have to be prepared for a Mid Buchanan team that played us tough just a couple of days ago.” West Platte beat Mid-Buch 7-6 last week but had two score twice in the bottom of the seventh to do it. The Jays got three RBI from Kyle Hollingsworth and two RBI from Ben Heili; Tanner Lintner and Clay Lambrecht combined on the mound for the win. North Platte enters the tourney 3-18 after losses to Lawson and Mid-Buch last week. “In order for us to compete in districts we will need to eliminate our mistakes in the field and capitalize at the plate with runners on base,” Panthers coach Grant Tysdahl said.