Park Hill baseball showing growth, already nearing last year's win total

BRYCE MERENESS/Citizen photo Park Hill senior shortstop Chase McCollom attempts to turn a double play against Oak Park on Saturday, April 2 at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo. Park Hill went on to split the scheduled doubleheader with a 9-8 win and a 3-0 loss. 

BRYCE MERENESS/Citizen photo
Park Hill senior shortstop Chase McCollom attempts to turn a double play against Oak Park on Saturday, April 2 at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo. Park Hill went on to split the scheduled doubleheader with a 9-8 win and a 3-0 loss. 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A year ago, Park Hill’s youthful roster might have folded after giving up six runs in the top of the seventh inning of a doubleheader opener, potentially letting it fuel a long day to become part of a losing streak.

This year, the Trojans rallied back from the potential disappointment of allowing six runs in the seventh inning to score a 9-8 win against Oak Park at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo. That marked the fifth straight win at that point for Park Hill, which stands at 6-3 entering a Wednesday, April 6 game with North Kansas City.

Last season, Park Hill never won more than two games in a row and finished with a 7-22 record helped by an upset win in the opening round of the Class 5 District 16 tournament. Trojans coach Greg Reynolds played a lot of youth during a trying season with eyes towards success in the future. 

Five starters and 10 players total returned to the roster this season.

“That’s a big difference between last year (and now),” Reynolds said. “If you can trust your defense and just throw strikes, good things are going to happen. When you’re having a season like we had last year, young and trying to learn things, every time we brought the infield in they would hit a gapper or hit a grounder we would have had otherwise. 

“Today, it worked our way. I hope our pitchers are starting to understand they have defense behind them.”

Park Hill senior pitcher Chris Bolte pitched five innings of one-run baseball before ceding to the bullpen. He worked out of jams in the first, third and fourth innings to keep just the one run on the board for Oak Park.

The offense finally supplied seven runs in the bottom of the fifth to reward Bolte’s effort with what looked like a comfortable lead. 

“I started off a little slow. I put some runners on I shouldn’t have,” Bolte said. “Eventually, I just worked into a groove and kept going from there. There’s not a better place to be when you are pitching.”

BRYCE MERENESS/Citizen photo Park Hill senior Chris Bolte delivers a pitch in the opening game of a doubleheader on Saturday, April 2 at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo. 

BRYCE MERENESS/Citizen photo
Park Hill senior Chris Bolte delivers a pitch in the opening game of a doubleheader on Saturday, April 2 at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo. 

The first eight batters in the fifth reached base for Park Hill, including a two-RBI single from senior Preston Cross. The Northmen committed three errors in the inning to give more scoring opportunities away, and the final two runs came when Preston Cross and junior outfielder Parker Sampson came around to score on one of the miscues.

 The outburst turned a 1-1 tie into an 8-1 lead for the Trojans’ bullpen.

“There were a lot of runs in that game that were unearned or ugly or whatever you want to call it,” Reynolds said. “I think that goes more to Oak Park not giving up and us doing anything wrong.”

The seemingly sure win dissolved back into a fight when Oak Park extended the game with seven runs of its own in the seventh.

The Trojans avoided going behind when reliever Bryce Balusek worked out of the final jam, allowing the tying double before leaving the bases loaded. They immediately came back in the bottom half of the inning to score the walkoff run on a passed ball.

Griffin Fletcher laced a single to right-centerfield to start the rally for Park Hill, and junior shortstop Chase Mccollom laid down a sacrifice bunt to put him in scoring position. Courtesy runner Zach Suppes  advanced to third on a fly ball to right field and then scored on the next pitch, which rolled to the backstop. 

“We’re all pumped up about it,” Bolte said. “We didn’t have the season we wanted last year. This year, it’s already starting off a lot better.”

Oak Park 3, Park Hill 0

The Trojans five-game win streak snapped in the second game of the doubleheader Saturday, April 2. 

Park Hill managed just two hits on Oak Park junior Dylan Lloyd, who picked up a complete-game shutout. Fletcher took the loss, giving up all three runs — two earned — over five innings. Park Hill senior Chris Kaufman then pitched two scoreless innings of relief.

Park Hill 10, St. Joseph Central  1

The Trojans rebounded from the loss to move to 3-0 in Suburban Conference Red Division play on Monday, April 4 at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo. 

Park Hill took control of the game with a four-run third inning and never trailed. The first four batters reached base with walks out of No. 9 hitter Nate Thompson and leadoff hitter Lucas Youtsey before junior outfielder Trevor Guzzo and sophomore outfielder Liam Henry each collected RBI singles. An RBI single from Cross and double from Sampson capped the scoring in the frame.

Aaron Ashby, a senior, picked up the win.

Park Hill 22, Ruskin 0

The Trojans scored in every inning, including 10 in the bottom of the second, in a rout Wednesday, March 30 at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo.

Park Hill finished with eight extra-base hits from seven different players. Dalton Scott went 2-for-4 with a double and a triple, two runs scored and a team-high four RBIs. Tyler Watson tripled and scored three times and drove in three, while McCollom doubled and drove in three.
In all, Park Hill totaled 15 hits from 11 players.

Ashby (three innings) and Kauffman (two innings) combined on a five-inning no-hitter, allowing just one walk while striking out 12.

Platte County 3, Belton 2, 8 innings

Kodee Martin scored the walkoff run after his second extra-base hit Monday, April 4 at Platte County High School.

Martin went 3-for-4 with a single in the first, triple in the third and double in the eighth. He scored the final two runs for the Pirates, who led 2-0 after the third inning before Colton Horn allowed a pair of runs — just one earned — in the top of the fifth of the Suburban Conference Blue Division matchup.

Horn started and went five innings with seven strikeouts while allowing six hits and one walk. He also went 3-for-3 with a walk.

Platte County improved to 4-3 overall and 2-0 in league play ahead of a trip to the West Central Tournament this week with doubleheaders slated for Wednesday, April 6 and Friday, April 8.

Platte County 7, Raytown South 0

The Pirates recorded their third shutout in four games behind Glen Gammill’s five innings of shutout work.

Gammill earned the start and worked around five hits and two walks with eight strikeouts. Max Hunter and Drew Parmeley worked a scoreless inning each to finish off the shutout in Platte County’s Suburban Conference Red Division opener.

Platte County took a 2-0 lead in the first on an RBI double for Martin and an error.

The Pirates extended the lead with two in the third with Horn’s sacrifice fly scoring Jerod Thomas and Dillon Doll following with a single to score Martin, who finished 2-for-4 with two runs and three RBIs. Martin hit a two-run double in a three-run fourth that also included Hunter’s RBI single.

Thomas went 2-for-2 with two runs scored.

St. Joseph Central 7, Platte County 4

St. Joseph Central 5, Platte County 4

Justin Mitchell homered in each of the first two innings, but the Pirates lost leads of 3-0 and 4-2 in the second game of a doubleheader Saturday, April 2 at Platte County High School.

After leading off the bottom of the first with a home run, Mitchell added a second solo home run in the second. He ended up with the only two RBIs for the Pirates, who finished with five hits and two other unearned runs.

In the opener, Central broke a 3-3 tie with four runs off of Platte County reliever Blake Conner in the top of the seventh to win.

Mitchell went 3-for-3, scored twice and drove in another run. He homered, while Thomas added a double for the Pirates, who started senior standout Jared Wilson (three innings pitched).

Park Hill South 3, Platte County 0

The Panthers did more with their limited hits Tuesday, March 29 to end Platte County’s unbeaten start.

The first two runners reached for Park Hill South against Pirates starter Grant Carver, and Andrew Aswegan’s two-run double led to a pair of unearned runs in the first inning at Platte County High School. Ryan Hagen led off the second with a single and came around to score the final run without another hit.

Park Hill South didn’t have another hit in the final five innings against Carver and Drew Parmeley, who threw three innings of shutout relief.

Parmeley issued back-to-back walks to start the fifth but worked out of a jam with a fielder’s choice, a groundout and a baserunning mistake. He didn’t strike out any in three innings, while Carver finished with five — three in the first inning.

Platte County finished with four hits against Park Hill South starter Jacob Thigpen, who stranded three runners in scoring position. He finished off the complete game with four strikeouts and three walks.

Liberty 5, Park Hill South 4 9 innings

A pair of seventh inning rallies led to extra innings Monday, April 4 at Liberty High School. 

Park Hill South scored a pair of runs in the top of the seventh to take a 4-3 lead that had stood since the first inning, but the Blue Jays answered with a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning off of reliever Jake Evans, who worked two-plus innings.

Liberty plated the winning run with a leadoff single, two bunts and an error in the bottom of the ninth. 

Park Hill South (3-4) took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning on an RBI single for Kelby Krieger and Zach Suchanick’s sacrifice fly. Liberty answered back with three unearned runs off of Thigpen on three walks and two errors in the bottom of the inning.

Brett Palmer’s leadoff single started Park Hill South’s initial comeback.

Malik Stevenson stole second base after coming in as a pinch runner and scored on Collin Farrow’s single. Farrow scored the go-ahead run two batters later on Ryan Callahan’s sacrifice fly. After Liberty tied the score, Krieger led off the top of the eighth with a single, but Park Hill South’s next six batters were all retired in order.