RIVERSIDE, Mo. — After a thrilling upset on Monday, May 14 Park Hill South had a chance to advance to the MSHSAA playoffs for the first time in more than a decade.
The Panthers pitching staff allowed just two hits in the contest but issued 10 free passes in a 3-1 loss to St. Joseph Central on Wednesday, May 16 at Park Hill South High School.
Park Hill South had its chances early, getting a runner in scoring position but didn’t capitalize on the opportunity. In the second inning Central scored the game’s first run, all without recording a hit. The first three batters reached via walk before a hit batsman forced in a run. A force out at the plate a strikeout and a fly out limited the damage to one run in the frame.
In the third inning the Indians added what proved to be the winning run after a one-out walk. Alex Caudill then launched one of the Indians two hits in the game over the left-centerfield fence into the woods to put Central up 3-0. A flare single with two outs extended the inning and was the final hit given up by the Panthers pitching staff.
“We only gave up two hits,” Park Hill South coach Josh Walker said. “Walks and hit batters will kill you every time. We’ve been fighting that all year. The kids, though, I’m proud of them. They played hard, pitched hard. It shows the character of this team. We didn’t make an error out there. We kept trying to put the ball in play.”
Park Hill South threatened in the sixth inning after Kriss Davis reached base on a throwing error before scampering to second on the overthrow. A passed ball moved his courtesy runner to third before a ground ball to first base resulted in a play at the plate.
“We got runners on third with one out twice and just couldn’t get the contact to bring him in,” Walker said. “We had a kid thrown out at home. When you leave too many chance with a kid like that on the mound you are in trouble.”
In the seventh inning a pair of hits broke the Panthers scoreless streak and brought the tying run to the plate but a pair of strikeouts ended the game with the No. 2 seed Indians advancing to sectionals.
Billy Eggers hit a one-out triple before a single from Dylan Owens brought him home.
“The triple by Billy there in the seventh and for Dylan to knock him in was outstanding,” Walker said. “this is one of the best groups of kids I’ve ever been around and coached.”