KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Platte County’s players showed some inexperience with handling championship trophies. They hope to have another shot later in a resurgent season.
After the Pirates claimed the Northland Tournament title Saturday, April 23, coach Rob Davenport needed to remind the seniors to go collect the plaque from Oak Park activities director Casey Vokolek. Platte County went 4-1 in five games in five days, culminating with a brisk 9-0 win against North Kansas City in the championship game.
Platte County last won a tournament title with a Class 3 District 16 championship game win back in 2006. A decade later, the Pirates play in the newly created Class 5 — largest in Missouri — and have slowly built in recent years to reclaim some hardware.
“We didn’t even know what to do when they were giving a trophy,” Davenport said. “We just want to build off of this. The ultimate goal is to perform well in districts. We just want to continue to get better.”
The two teams also met in pool play with North Kansas City winning in extra innings.
However in the rematch, a big second inning built a big lead, and three members of a beleaguered pitching staff combined for the shutout. Colton Horn started and threw three innings, and Grant Carver and Max Hunter followed with two innings apiece.
North Kansas City managed only three hits, although Carver and Hunter walked a pair apiece.
“Our pitching staff has did a great job all week keeping pitch counts down so we still had pitchers available today,” Davenport said. “We’re a little bit deeper than we have been in pitching in a long time so that helps. It’s always good for your pitchers when you can play with the lead. It definitely opens up the play book.”
Up 1-0 after the first inning, Platte County received a single from Drew Parmeley to open the top of the second.
Dillon Doll then worked a one-out walk before Hunter hit an RBI single. Doll and Hunter then scored on junior catcher Justin Mitchell’s single, and he advanced to second on a late throw home trying to nab Hunter. Mitchell stole third and scored when the throw down from the catcher bounced into left field.
Eight of the nine batters score at least one run or drove in at least one run.
Hunter went 3-for-4 with two runs and an RBI from the No. 9 spot, while Mitchell also scored twice and had a double. Horn collected a pair of RBIs with two doubles, helping Platte County improve to 13-6 with just one loss in its past eight games.
“Every game takes teamwork; it’s kind of everyone,” Mitchell said. “From enthusiasm on the bench, to talking out on the field, to hitting, everyone getting excited. It’s everyone just doing their job one person at a time and everybody doing their own job. It’s exciting; we’re all excited.”
Platte County 7, Liberty 3
Jared Wilson allowed just one hit through five innings, and the Pirates took full advantage to advance to the championship game with a semifinal win Friday, April 22.
Platte County led 6-0 after the fifth before Wilson ran into trouble. He allowed three hits to start the sixth and was forced to cede to the bullpen after 5 2/3 innings of work. He finished with two earned runs against.
The win booked Platte County into the title game of the Northland Invitational for the first time in school history in the Pirates’ third appearance in the tournament’s semifinal round.
“It’s a big win for us,” Davenport said. “We’ve been rebuilding this program for a long time. It’s the first time we’ve been able to get Liberty. It’s the first time we’ve been in the semifinals of this tournament in a long, long time. It’s great. Things are starting to come together.”
Parmeley (2-for-3) and Doll (3-for-4) led the offense for Platte County. Hunter drove in two on a pair of sacrifice flies.
Platte County 2, Park Hill South 1
The Pirates avoided a second shutout loss of the season to Park Hill South with some late-inning heroics in their pool play opener.
Playing as the home team at Park Hill South High School after the game was relocated due to field conditions, Platte County tied the score in the bottom of the sixth before Mitchell hit a walkoff single in the seventh Tuesday, April 19. Park Hill South starter Ryan Hagen allowed just three hits and a walk in the first five innings before Mitchell led off the sixth with a double.
Kodee Martin followed with an RBI single to tie the score.
Horn threw a complete game, and after allowing the first batter of the game to score, he ended up striking out three total and faced the minimum for the final four innings. He allowed a double to Hagen to lead off the fourth inning, and he moved to third on a fly ball.
Mitchell then picked off pinch runner Malik Stevenson on a throw down to third. A hit by pitch with two outs in the sixth represented Park Hill South’s final runner, and Mitchell also picked off Andrew Aswegan.
After tying the score in the bottom of the sixth, Platte County stranded Martin and Jerod Thomas on second and third. Doll then led off the seventh with a single and went to second on a sacrifice bunt before Hagen hit Hunter with a pitch.
Mitchell then singled to left to score pinch-runner Ryan Frazier with the winning run.
North Kansas City 8, Platte County 7, 8 innings
The Pirates were on the other end of a dramatic finish in their second pool play game Wednesday, April 20.
After leading early, Platte County needed three runs in the top of the seventh to extend the game before scoring in the top of the eighth to go ahead 7-6. Blake Conner allowed a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning in what ended up a walkoff win for North Kansas City.
Martin went 4-for-5 with two doubles and three runs scored for Platte County. Thomas, Austin Gammill and Parmeley drove in two runs apiece.
Platte County went up 3-0 in the third on Martin’s double, Gammill’s RBI single and Parmeley’s two-run double. North Kansas City answered back with three in the bottom of the inning off of Glen Gammill, who lasted five-plus innings and ended up charged with four runs.
Colby Sneed allowed the final three runs, one inherited, in the sixth inning before Blake Conner pitched the seventh and part of the eighth. The Hornets collected 10 hits total and four walks.
Platte County 14, Oak Park 4
A nine-run third inning Thursday, April 21 at Platte County High School allowed the Pirates to finish pool play at 2-1.
Platte County’s big inning included Doll’s two-run double, Mitchell’s two-run single, Martin’s two-run double and Horn’s two-run home run. Hunter also had a run-scoring single.
Oak Park led 1-0 after the first and tied the score at 4-4 with three runs in the top of the third, all charged to Carver, who started. The Pirates backed him by scoring in all four innings, including a two-run first that included an RBI triple for Horn followed by Thomas’ RBI double.
Mitchell went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs, while Martin and Horn drove in three apiece and combined to score five runs. Horn went 3-for-3 with three RBIs and three runs scored. Hunter also went 3-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs.