Platte County baseball riding hot streak after slow start

ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo Members of the Platte County baseball team congratulate pitcher Matt Mefford, center, following a 5-1 win against Park Hill in the Northland Classic on Thursday, April 23 at Park Hill High School in Kansas City. Platte County didn’t have an extra-base hit. In fact, the ball rarely left the infield against Park Hill’s two pitchers, but the Pirates kept finding ways to create runners and take advantage of mistakes.

Call it a product of a recent hot streak.

Platte County won 5-1 on Thursday, April 23 at Park Hill High School in their finale of the Northland Tournament, and the Pirates had won six straight entering a Tuesday, April 28 matchup at Kearney. The result was not available at The Citizen’s deadline.

ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo Park Hill second baseman Lucas Youtsey, left, attempts to tag a Platte County centerfielder Colton Horn during a game of the Northland Classic on Thursday, April 23 at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo. Platte County won the game 5-1.

In the week-long event, Platte County went 3-1 and recorded its best finish in the past five years under coach Rob Davenport, who said after the victory against Park Hill, “Honestly, just a good two weeks. I thought we were playing well even early in the season. We just weren’t seeing the results. It’s been nice to see some of those results.

After a blowout loss to eventual champion Liberty in the Northland opener, Platte County (8-9) won three in a row and just missed qualifying for the semifinals.

Instead, the Pirates beat Park Hill for the second time in a little more than a week. They shut out the Trojans 9-0 on April 15 and followed that up with another dominant win. Platte County took advantage of five errors by stealing five bases and recording three sacrifice hits.

“It’s just good that we can piece things together when we need to,” said Platte County pitcher Matt Mefford, who scattered six hits and a walk while striking out six in a complete game victory. “We can get the runs across in desperate times. We didn’t have the long ball today, a lot of small ball, but it was good to manufacture our runs.”

Kodee Martin and Mefford led off the first with a pair of infield singles and came around to score on an error, a sacrifice and a wild pitch. Platte County only recorded three more hits — all against starting lefty Aaron Ashby, who took the loss despite allowing only two earned runs in six innings of work.

Park Hill’s six hits included a trio of doubles, including back-to-back shots from Preston Crouse and Kyle Francis to cut the Pirates’ lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the second.

The third double came from Parker Sampson leading off the bottom of the fifth. Platte County scored twice in the top of the frame to stretch its lead to 5-1, but Sampson offered potential for a comeback with a shot to the left-center field gap. Pirates center fielder Colton Horn, who stole a pair of bases and scored a run, briefly bobbled the ball on the warning track before firing a relay throw to Martin at shortstop.

Martin then hit Max Hunter at third to provide the first out and quell any potential for a rally.

“Didn’t seem like it at the time, but looking back at it? Yeah, that was a big out,” Davenport said.

Ashby struck out eight but couldn’t overcome some of the miscues behind him. Austin Gammill scored in the fourth when Hunter’s routine single rolled past the left fielder and to the wall, allowing the Pirates first baseman to come all the way around from first. In the fifth, Justin Mitchell singled and then stole second when the Trojans failed to cover second base when Horn squared around to bunt before taking a pitch that led to confusion.

Horn then hit an RBI single, and designated hitter Drew Parmeley scored another run with a squeeze bunt later in the inning.

Liberty 9, Park Hill South 5

After a dramatic run, the Panthers’ chance at winning the tournament title ended with a semifinal loss to the No. 6 team in Class 5 on Thursday, April 23 in Liberty, Mo.

Liberty scored in five of six innings, including three in the bottom of the sixth to halt Park Hill South’s comeback attempt. The Panthers took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on right fielder Richard Fullerton’s RBI double but were down 6-1 entering the top of the fifth.

Park Hill South took advantage of three errors to forge a two-out rally that included Collin Farrow’s two-RBI single. The Panthers sent eight to the plate total with Codey Land reaching on an error to lead off followed by a pair of flyouts. Ryan Callahan, Jake Kline and Farrow all followed with singles.

Park Hill South starter Frank Wood allowed a single to lead off the sixth before giving way to Dominic Scudiero, who allowed the inherited runner to score and two more. The Panthers went 1-2-3 in the seventh.

Park Hill South 10, Staley 9

The Panthers overcame an 8-5 deficit, tying the score in the bottom of the fifth and scoring the winning run in the sixth, to finish off an unbeaten run through pool play on Wednesday, April 22.

Ranked No. 1 in Class 5, Staley scored once in the top of the seventh against reliever James Gomes (2 1/3-plus innings in relief of starter Jake Purl), but Jake Evans, despite allowing an inherited runner to score, worked out of trouble to record the final three outs. Andrew Richards’ two-run home run to center field capped the critical fifth inning after Jacob Thigpen had doubled home Fullerton, who led off with a double.

Fullerton added an RBI triple and scored the eventual winning run on error in the sixth, going 4-for-4 with two triples, a double, a single, four runs scored and two RBIs.

Staley led 5-0 before the Panthers came to bat, thanks to Jordan Robben’s grand slam off of Purl. The Panthers tied the score at five with three in the first and two in the second, courtesy of triples from Jake Kline and Fullteron along with Thigpen’s sac fly. He drove in three total.

Staley chased Purl after he allowed a home run to Parker Mertz in the third and two more runs in fourth. He exited down 8-5 after 3 2/3 innings of work.

Park Hill South 5, Liberty North 4

Codey Land drove in the winning run with an RBI fielder’s choice in a walkoff win Tuesday, April 21.

The Panthers overcame deficits of 3-0 and 4-3 to keep hopes of a championship game berth alive. Kline and John Chacon led off the inning with back-to-back singles and advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch. Fullerton’s RBI sacrifice fly to right tied the score, and Liberty North then intentionally walked the bases loaded with one out.

Land’s grounder to shortstop allowed Chacon to plate the winning run.

Liberty North led early after three runs in the top of the first against Park Hill South starter Ryan Hagen, who lasted 3 1/3 innings. The Panthers struck back for two in their half of the first with an RBI single from Chacon to score Kline and RBI single from Thigpen.

Kline then plated a run in the bottom of the fourth to tie it with an RBI single.

Liberty North regained the lead in the top of the sixth with a run against reliever James Gomes, who worked 2 2/3 innings. Evans pitched the seventh and ended up earning the win.

Platte County 8, North Kansas City 2

The Pirates rounded out pool play with a 2-1 record behind a four-run fourth inning on Wednesday, April 22 at Platte County High School.

Jared Wilson hit an RBI double in the big inning, and Jarod Thomas followed with an RBI single to help put Platte County up 8-0. North Kansas City scored two in the top of the fifth on Pedro Alfonseca’s two-run home run but didn’t threaten, managing just five hits off of Platte County starter Max Hunter, who struck out five and walked four in five innings of work.

Drew Parmaley faced just seven batters, striking out two and allowing only a runner on error in two innings of work.

Platte County managed nine hits off of three different pitchers for the Hornets, including a 3-for-4 day for Hunter. Thomas finished with two hits and two RBIs, while Colton Horn scored twice. Kodee Martin led off a two-run first with a triple and scored.

Platte County 10, Fort Osage 7

In a game that featured six lead changes, the Pirates prevailed after scoring three in the bottom of the fifth Tuesday, April 21 in Independence, Mo.

Martin’s RBI single brought home Austin Gammill during the decisive inning. Mitchell nearly hit for the cycle, tripling during a two-run first inning and adding a home run in the third. He drove in four total.

Fort Osage took a 6-2 lead with six runs in the top of the second off of Wilson, who allowed seven in the complete game victory while striking out eight.

Mitchell’s home run in the third helped cut the deficit to 6-4, and an RBI single from him in a three-run fourth gave Platte County the lead back briefly. Fort Osage answered with its final run.

Other games

Platte County 3, Grandview 0

Grant Carver struck out seven in a shutout, helping the Pirates improve to 3-1 in Suburban Conference Blue Division play.

Platte County started a busy week with an easy win Monday, April 27 at Platte County High School, ahead of league matchups at Kearney (Tuesday, April 28) and vs. Belton (Wednesday, April 29) and nonconference games at Pembroke Hill (Thursday, April 30) and vs. Grain Valley (doubleheader on Saturday, May 2).

Grandview managed just three hits off of Carver, who also walked four. Dillon Doll and Kodee Martin recorded two hits apiece, nearly all of the Pirates’ production. All three runs were unearned, including two for Martin from leadoff spot, with the Bulldogs committing four costly errors.

Fort Osage 8, Park Hill South 6

The Indians scored three in the first off of starting pitcher Jake Purl and then pulled away with four in the fifth against Gomes during a nonconference game Monday, April 27 in Independence, Mo.

Park Hill South (11-7) fought back to the score at 4 with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth. Richards hit a two-run home run with no outs, and Land immediately drew a walk but ended up stranded at second base. The Panthers left 11 total, six in scoring position.

Chacon, the catcher, walked three times, and Brandon Rice scored three runs as his courtesy runner.