KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kyle Francis tucked the ball into his back pocket, a memento from one of the biggest hits of his Park Hill career.In a season devoid of many highlights, the Trojans senior wanted to keep the home run ball from his game-tying solo shot in the top of the sixth inning against Platte County in a Class 5 District 16 first-round matchup Monday, May 18 at Park Hill High School. Park Hill went on to win 4-2 after scoring twice in the third extra inning, a result not possible without the home run.
Francis, a University of Central Missouri signee, led off the top of the sixth with the Trojans trailing 2-1. He sent a 3-1 fastball from Pirates reliever Drew Parmeley well over the left field wall despite a stiff breeze blowing into the stadium.
“I got the first pitch in the same place, but coach had told me to take it,” Francis said. “I got it again at 3-1, and I just hit it as hard as I could. It went. It’s going in my trophy case for sure. It feels amazing. With the season we had, we came back and beat a good team in Platte County.”
Platte County entered on a lengthy hot streak that included two previous wins against the Trojans, who scored two on a fielder’s choice in the top of the 10th to take their first lead of the season in three games against the Pirates. Chris Bolte worked around a one-out double in the bottom of the frame to earn the win, advancing Park Hill to the semifinals against top seed Staley.
Park Hill’s season came to an end with an 2-0 loss to the Falcons on Tuesday, May 19, but the Trojans’ win against Platte County came on the heels of a 3-13 stretch dating back to April 10. They finished 8-22 overall.
“It was a little more energy than we’ve had in a while,” Park Hill coach Greg Reynolds said. “To have something to come back and play for, that’s a good thing.”
Park Hill catcher Conner Morehouse led off the 10th with a pop up on the infield that dropped between shortstop and third base.
Courtesy runner Chris Kaufman stole second and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt from Carter Kreutzinger. Platte County elected to put Francis (3-for-4) on with an intentional walk, and sophomore Parker Sampson was hit by the next pitch to load the bases.
Park Hill shortstop Chase McCollom then hit a slow grounder to Pirates shortstop Kodee Martin, who tried to start an inning ending double play, but the relay throw to first was too high, allowing two runs to score on the play — Kaufman and Francis all the way from second.
“We just needed something good to happen,” Reynolds said. “It’s been a long year. We were just going in hoping to win a 3-2 game, which is how we have to win games. We didn’t do a very good job of doing the little things to even win the game 3-2. Kyle had a good day.”
Platte County led 2-0 after three innings, scoring once in the first and third. Martin reached to lead off the first and came around to score on a double to the left-centerfield wall from sophomore catcher Justin Mitchell.
Martin started the other rally, as well, and scored on Austin Gammill’s two-out RBI single.
Platte County’s best threat to win came in the bottom of the eighth, but Park Hill starter Aaron Ashby recorded back-to-back strikeouts after loading the bases with one out. The Pirates ended the season with just two seniors and experienced a disheartening end after turning their season around.
“We didn’t execute all day,” Platte County Coach Rob Davenport said. “We didn’t get our jobs done today. That’s why we lost.”
“We had a good season. We ended up 17-11, which is the best season we’ve had in a long time.”
Platte County 3, Kearney 2
The Pirates pieced together a second tight victory to steal the Suburban Conference Blue Division title late in the regular season.
Jerod Thomas scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh on Kodee Martin’s RBI double for a walkoff 3-2 win Tuesday, May 12 at Platte County High School. The Pirates won the first matchup with Kearney 3-2, as well, part of a lengthy hot streak now extending into the postseason.
After a Blue Division loss to Belton, Platte County won 16 of its next 21 and is 15-2 in its last 17 games before the start of the postseason, including an 8-0 mark in league play. The Pirates finished 9-1 in conference for their first league title since 2004.
Jared Wilson earned the win despite allowing a pair of runs in the top of the seventh, which allowed Kearney to tie the score.
Platte County 1, Central 0
The Pirates took advantage of their only hit in their regular season finale, scoring the only run in the bottom of the third on a passed ball Wednesday, May 13 at Platte County High School.
Colton Horn scored and earned the win, throwing four shutout innings. Parmeley added a scoreless frame and Max Hunter threw the final two to complete the two-hit shutout. Both hits came against Horn, and the three pitchers combined to strike out eight.
Central stranded six runners.
Park Hill South 6, Truman 2
The Panthers came back from an early two-run deficit, scoring at least one in the third, fourth and fifth innings Wednesday, May 13 at Park Hill South High School.
Park Hill South took the lead with three runs in the third after starter Jake Evans spotted Truman a 2-0 advantage in the bottom of the first. He came back to throw five straight scoreless innings, allowing only three more hits. Truman grouped three singles together in its first inning.
Carter Hedrick led off the third with a single and came around to score on catcher John Chacon’s RBI sacrifice fly. Richard Fullerton followed with a run-scoring single, and Jacob Thigpen drove him in with a double to deep left-center field.
Hedrick went 2-for-3 and Fullerton finished 2-for-4. Park Hill South went 7-2 in Suburban Conference Red Division play with the final game against Truman canceled, finishing second behind Liberty (9-1).
Park Hill South, the No. 2 seed in Class 5 District 16, was scheduled to play Oak Park in the second semifinal on Tuesday, May 19, but the result was not available at The Citizen’s deadline. The winner advanced to the title game scheduled for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 20 to play Staley (23-4), which lost 10-9 to Park Hill South during the Northland Tournament last month in their only meeting this season.