RIVERSIDE, Mo. — Teammates quickly surrounded Park Hill South pitcher Jake Purl on the mound. The senior right-hander didn’t know what to do, running away at first before giving in to the celebration of the first perfect game in program history.
Purl struck out 14 Platte County batters Wednesday, April 1 and only allowed one ball out of the infield at Park Hill South High School in a 4-0 victory for the Panthers.
“It feels really good,” Purl said. “I’m shocked right now and really excited. First inning when I struck out a couple, I knew I was on today. I knew I was throwing strikes. I knew it was going to be a good day.” Just how good likely couldn’t have been predicted.
Purl overpowered the Pirates lineup with a steady diet of fastballs and struck out the side in the second and fifth innings. Matt Mefford fly out to center field in the third inning represented the biggest threat to retiring 21 straight.
For the final out, Park Hill South second baseman Patrick Sparks calmly collected a ground ball and tossed over to Carter Hedrick to set off the celebration, which ended with Purl doused in cold water from the Gatorade bucket.
“That was something special,” Park Hill South coach Josh Walker said. “We haven’t been a part of that. Jake threw it extremely well of course. The plays we made behind him weren’t routine. The only routine one was the one at the end.”
Park Hill South grabbed an early lead to give Purl breathing room.
Easton Fortuna, a senior shortstop, led off the bottom of the first with a single and scored one batter later when senior catcher John Chacon tripled to the left-centerfield gap off of Platte County sophomore starter Grant Carver. Richard Fullerton collected the second RBI of the inning on a groundout and a quick 2-0 lead.
“That was very important,” Chacon said. “I feel like if we didn’t have the run support in the first inning he would have been more stressed on the mound. Once we got the run support, he calmed down and locked in.”
Purl only faced three three-ball counts and each time eventually struck out the batter with the advantage.
“I have caught Purl since we were eight or 10,” Chacon said. “He was just on. I knew he was on in the first inning. He was locked in and ready to go.”
Park Hill South added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning on another hit from Chacon, signed to play with Elsworth (Iowa) Community College next season. He laced a single into left field, and Fullerton’s second hit of the put two runners on with no outs.
Both runners advanced on a wild pitch, and Eli Patterson collected an RBI on a sacrifice fly to center field. Fullerton also singled and scored in the fourth inning for the only other run for Park Hill South. Carver allowed six hits and one walk in five innings of work. He exited after the back-to-back hits in the sixth, giving way to Drew Parmeley who limited the damage to one run.
“We got a good outing from our pitcher,” Platte County coach Rob Davenport said. “I thought we played good defense. They got some timely hitting, and we didn’t hit the ball at all.”
Park Hill South completed a perfect week with a 13-0 win against Ruskin on Friday, April 3 at Ruskin High School. Frank Wood and James Gomes combined to throw a one-hit shutout.
Liberty 10, Park Hill South 0
Park Hill South comitted seven errors in a sloppy affair on Monday, April 6 at Park Hill South High School. Purl followed up his perfect game by giving up just one earned run — seven overall — to take the loss.
Platte County 14, Raytown South 0, 5 innings
Justin Mitchell hit for the cycle in four at-bats, and Max Hunter and Jared Wilson combined to throw a no-hitter in Raytown, Mo.
One night after being no-hit, the Pirates went for 14 hits in a run-rule victory Thursday, April 2. Mitchell racked up six RBIs, doubling in the first inning, homering in the second, singling in the fourth and tripling in the fifth.
Hunter and Wilson combined to strike out four, while allowing a pair of baserunners on errors. Hunter also hit a batter.
Wilson and Mitchell both recorded RBI doubles in the first, and Jerod Thomas added another in the second inning before scoring on Mitchell’s two-run home run. The Pirates led 6-0 at that point and added six more in the top of the fifth, including Mitchell’s two-RBI triple.
Belton 5, Platte County 4
A late rally came up short for Platte County despite 11 hits.
Belton scored five times in the bottom of the third Monday, April 6 in Belton, Mo. and then held on for the Suburban League Blue Division win. Platte County (1-5, 1-1) close within 5-3 on an RBI single for Austin Gammill and two-run double for Hunter in the top of the sixth, but Mitchell struck out with a chance to draw even closer.
Thomas added an RBI single in the top of the seventh, but Platte County couldn’t push across the tying run.
St. Joseph Central 3, Platte County 1
The Indians scored single runs in the first, third and fourth innings on the way to a win in the opener of a doubleheader Saturday, April 4 at Phil Welch Stadium in St. Joseph, Mo. Hunter drove in the Pirates’ lone run with a single in the sixth inning.
Platte County finished with five hits, two apiece for Hunter and Colton Horn.
St. Joseph Central 7, Platte County 2
After taking an early lead, the Pirates allowed seven unanswered runs on the way to being swept.
Central scored four times in the bottom of the second to go ahead 4-2, then added three more in the bottom of the fifth to create the final margin. Mitchell singled and scored in the first for the Pirates, and Thomas walked and came around on Mefford’s RBI double in the second to create the 2-0 advantage.
Platte County stranded eight runners.