Park Hill South took at least a temporary lead in the Suburban Conference Blue Division standings with a win against Ruskin and now has a good shot to at least share the regular season title.
The 12-2 victory at Park Hill South High School in Riverside, Mo. pushed the Panthers’ conference record to 6-2, giving them a half game lead on Liberty. Park Hill South closes the regular season at Park Hill (Tuesday, May 9) and vs. Truman (Thursday, May 11) with two wins guaranteeing a conference title.
To sweep Ruskin, Park Hill South (13-9) slowly stretched its lead before invoking the run rule after six innings.
Brandon Rice hit a walkoff single to left field in the sixth, scoring Chase Putnam after he singled and stole second and third. The Panthers scored seven in the final two innings of the blowout, but they did trail early.
Ruskin scored in the top of the first against Park Hill South starter James Gomes with a two-out single, two stolen bases and a wild pitch.
The Panthers answered with four in the bottom of the inning to take the lead for good. Colin Farrow led off with a double and scored on Jacob Thigpen’s two-out double. The two-out rally sustained with an RBI double for Rice, an RBI single for Kelby Krieger and an RBI double for Zach Suchanick.
Thigpen finished 2-for-2 with a walk, adding a second double in the bottom of the third and scoring on Krieger’s sacrifice fly. The single tally answered Ruskin’s other run, which briefly cut the lead to 4-2.
Park Hill South scored four in the fifth on just three hits, including a two-out RBI double for Suchanick followed with a single from Frank Wood.
Gomes earned the win, allowing just three hits while striking out seven. Chase Putnam pitched an inning of scoreless relief, facing the minimum despite allowing a leadoff single. Suchanick, the catcher, threw out Hazem Tarique trying to steal second.
Park Hill South 14, Raytown South 0, 5 innings
Ryan Hagen allowed just two hits in a shutout effort Saturday, April 30 in Raytown, Mo.
Park Hill South scored at least two runs in each of the first four innings. Zach Suchanick hit an RBI double in a five-run first, and the Panthers went up 10-0 with five more in the second. Colin Farrow hit a two-run single in the third, and Jake Evans hit a pinch-hit two-run home run to left in the fourth.
Park Hill South 13, St. Joseph Central 5
In increasingly sloppy conditions, the Panthers pulled away for a Blue Division win Friday, April 29 with the game called after five innings.
Central led 4-1 entering the top of the fifth when Park Hill South sent 17 batters to the plate against three pitchers. The Panthers plated 12 runs — only three earned — with three of the first four batters reaching with a walk before the Indians recorded the first out.
Two errors and a walk followed, and Jacob Thigpen eventually provided the big hit with a three-run double.
Park Hill South took a 1-0 lead in the first on Ryan Callahan’s RBI sacrifice fly to score Malik Stevenson, who reached with a one-out single. Evans earned the complete game victory, allowing a run after a leadoff double in the fifth before closing the door.
Park Hill South 7, Liberty 1
The two teams exchanged early salvos before going scoreless in the final five innings Wednesday, April 27 at Park Hill South High School in Riverside, Mo.
Liberty took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first with a leadoff double against Thigpen, who ended up with a complete game allowing only five hits and one walk. Park Hill South immediately answered back with three runs after the first four batters reached base in the bottom of the first.
Jake Kline led off with a single, and Stevenson walked. Callahan followed with an RBI double, and Thigpen drove in the last two with a single. The Panthers then did the rest of their scoring, sending 10 to the plate in the second while recording only two hits.
Brandon Rice led off with a single for Park Hill, later scoring when Liberty reliever Clayton Adams hit Andrew Aswegan with a pitch. Hagen followed with an RBI single before the final two runs scored on Adams’ walks to Farrow and Kelby Krieger.
After an adventurous first inning, Thigpen retired 18 of the final 20 batters, allowing only a pair of two-out singles in the sixth before stranding both runners.
Park Hill 2, Truman 0; Park Hill 3, Truman 2
The Trojans swept a low scoring Red Division doubleheader Monday, April 2. Both games were played at Truman High School but the teams alternated playing as the home team after last week’s scheduled game at Park Hill ended up rained out.
In the opener, Park Hill stranded after collecting eight hits — all singles — and four walks against two Truman pitchers. The Trojans broke through for a first run in the fourth and added an insurance run in the sixth.
Liam Henry and Trevor Guzzo collected two hits apiece, but the bottom of the order collected the runs. Parker Sampson and pinch-runner Zach Suppes on RBIs for No. 2 hitter Tyler Watson and Henry in the three hole.
Griffin Fletcher (four innings) and Chris Bolte (three innings) combined on a three-hit shutout for Park Hill.
In the second game, Park Hill fought back from a 2-0 deficit with three runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Sampson reached with a walk and later scored with Lucas Youtsey and Watson each following with an RBI hit. The final run was unearned but gave the Trojans’ their first lead.
Park Hill ended up with just five hits, and Watson finished 2-for-3. Youtsey doubled in a run during the three-run fifth.
Aaron Ashby finished the sixth and totaled nine strikeouts along with both runs allowed. Connor Morehouse came in for the seventh and worked around a single by striking out the side.
Park Hill followed a three-game losing skid to close out the Northland Invitational with three straight Red Division wins. The Trojans now sit at 5-2, tied with Liberty at a half game back of Park Hill South.
Park Hill and Liberty play a key conference game Wednesday, May 4 with the winner moving into a tie for the top spot. Liberty won the first matchup between the two teams 6-0 back in April.