DEARBORN, Mo. — The KCI Conference schedule always presented a challenge for North Platte.
After opening with a win in league play, the Panthers dropped two straight in blowout fashion, but the results don’t end all optimism. Lathrop’s 12-1 win in five innings Thursday, April 13 at Dean Park dropped North Platte to 5-4 on the season, still one game above .500 with more of the KCI schedule looming.
“Back in the day, we were not a very strong club so even when we come up to Lathrop we were kind of scared to play,” North Platte senior Halen Knapp said. “Today we came out feeling confident because we’re having a pretty good season so far.”
With junior starting pitcher Austin Snook on the mound for North Platte, Lathrop put up seven runs in the top of the second inning to take control but only five of those were earned. He did walk five but also struck out five in 3 1/3 innings, and the Panthers committed three costly errors.
Lathrop took a 10-0 lead after the fourth and held a 12-0 advantage entering the bottom of the fifth.
Facing a second straight run-rule loss, North Platte nearly kept the game alive. Jacob Oliver, a sophomore, pinch hit and drew a walk, and he scored when senior shortstop Hunter Oliver reached on an error two batters later.
Trevor Lamar kept North Platte’s inning going with a single — his second and the last of the Panthers’ three hits.
With runners on second and third, Lathrop reliever Theo Haahr recorded two quick outs to preserve the 12-1 victory. The big second inning for the Mules ended up too much to overcome for North Platte, which entered the week off of three straight wins.
“I just told them we need to focus in more,” Tysdahl said. “It’s the beginning of the innings where we’re getting outplayed right now and I know they’re not going to give up, which they always show up and battle. We just need to lock it in and limit the mistakes early on so we’re not always having to comeback from large deficits.”
North Platte’s KCI slate was scheduled to continue Tuesday, April 18 against East Buchanan, but the result was not available at The Citizen’s deadline. The Panthers closed the week with matchups against West Platte on Wednesday and Lawson on Thursday.
Those three games will put North Platte past the halfway point of the KCI season, and at 1-4 going into the three straight days, of games, the Panthers have work to do.
“We’re still on our mark to our season goal, but we’ve got a big week,” Tysdahl said.
Mid-Buchanan 15, North Platte 1, 5 innings
The Dragons scored in all four of their innings at the plate Tuesday, April 11 in Faucett, Mo.
North Platte’s lone run in the KCI loss came unearned in the top of the fourth. Jacob Oliver and Caine Huffman threw two innings each for the Panthers, and only eight of the 15 runs given up were earned.