Nothing really changes for Jared Wilson this season, except the velocity on his fastball and the expectations that come with a big commitment.
A budding star at the end of last season, the Platte County junior right-hander unquestionably inherits the role of ace for the Pirates in 2016. He started each of their first two games this year and still hasn’t allowed a run after throwing five shutout out innings Monday, March 28 in a 7-0 win against Oak Grove at Platte County High School.
“I’ve just got to stay humble, you know? Don’t get too cocky in the head,” Wilson said.
Platte County fell to 2-1 with a 3-0 loss against Park Hill South on Tuesday, March 29, a game moved up a day due to forecasted inclement weather. Panthers senior Jacob Thigpen picked up the win with a complete -game shutout.
The Pirates’ unbeaten start came after surging to the finish last year before an upset loss in the opening round of Class 5 District 16 play. Wilson played a big part in the development of a youthful roster, going 5-0 in seven starts as a sophomore with 37 strikeouts in 46 innings.
Wilson added even more velocity to his fastball, topping out at 89 mph last year, and a rapid ascension led to his early commitment to the University of Missouri.
Platte County coach Rob Davenport wasted no time in starting the process to build up Wilson’s innings with the two early starts. Grant Carver, a junior, started against Park Hill South, and with four games and a tournament in the next week and a half, the Pirates will test the depth of their rotation.
But Wilson will be on the mound in the biggest situations.
“Obviously, he throws with decent velocity. He’s got good stuff,” Davenport said. “But he understands how to pitch. His demeanor on the mound — you can watch him — it doesn’t matter what happens behind him. He’s not rattled. He throws with a lot of confidence.
“We’ll definitely have him out there every week. There’s no doubt about it.”
Oak Grove put two runners on in two different innings against an otherwise efficient Wilson, who allowed two hits and two walks.
In the top of the first, Wilson faced runners at first and third with one out when cleanup hitter Tanner Lowery hit a sharp grounder to first base. Austin Gammill fielded, stepped on first and quickly threw down to second base allowing shortstop Kodee Martin to apply the tag for a double play.
The missed opportunity turned out to be the best for Oak Grove.
“I wanted to get at least one out,” said Gammill, a second-year starting junior who also walked and scored a run. “I figured I was just going to step on first and then go for two.”
Wilson worked quickly through the next two innings, needing just six pitches to get through the third.
Platte County finally broke through for runs in the third when Colton Horn socked a double off the right field fence to score a pair with two outs. The inning started with catcher Colby Sneed being hit by a pitch, and outfielder Dillon Doll capped it with a two-out single up the middle to score Horn and put the Pirates up 3-0.
Wilson worked around two runners in the fourth with two of his eight strikeouts, and his leadoff single in the bottom of the inning turned into the fourth run.
Horn came on in relief, and the left-hander struck out one and walked one in two innings of scoreless work. With his pitching work done, Wilson added an RBI single in a three-run fifth that pushed the lead to 7-0.
If this were later in the season, Wilson might have worked a complete game, but for now, he continues to build toward what looks like a promising career.
“Season’s just starting,” Wilson said.
Platte County 6, St. Pius X 0
The Pirates scored four in the bottom of the fourth Wednesday, March 23 at Platte County High School to take control of their season opener.
Max Hunter, who drove in a pair, started the big inning with an RBI single, and Platte County scored three more on two errors. The Pirates never trailed after Dillon Doll started the scoring in the first with an RBI double.
Wilson struck out eight in five innings, allowing only two hits to earn the win.
East Buchanan 7, North Platte 4, 5 innings
The Panthers lost a 3-1 lead in a KCI Conference game shortened due to inclement weather Wednesday, March 23 in Gower, Mo.
Garrett Lamar drove in a pair during a three-run top of the third inning to put North Platte up 3-1. The lead held until the bottom of the fourth when East Buchanan plated four against Panthers starter Blake Toliver.
North Platte recorded nine hits in the loss.
Bartlesville (Okla.) Wood Bat Classic
Park Hill South went 1-3 in four games played in two days last week against teams from the Sooner State.
On Friday, March 25, the Panthers lost twice to Ponca City, including a 2-0 shutout. Park Hill South led 6-4 after four innings in the other after erasing a 4-1 deficit. The Panthers scored twice in the third with help from an error and then added three in the fourth on Jake Kline’s RBI triple and back-to-back RBI doubles for centerfielder Jacob Thigpen and designated hitter Kelby Krieger.
Ponca City scored two in the fifth and three in the sixth for a 9-6 win.
Park Hill South’s lone win on the trip came against the hosts Thursday, March 24. The Panthers scored five times in the fourth inning to go ahead 5-1 on the way to a 5-2 victory. Bartlesville made two costly errors in the inning, and Ryan Hagen added a two-run single, later scoring on one of the errors.
Thigpen earned the win, allowing one unearned run in six innings.
Park Hill South’s other loss came against Collinsville, which led 4-1 after two innings on the way to a 9-6 win. Zach Suchanick went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, while Krieger added an RBI double in a two-run sixth that briefly tied the score at 6-6.
Collinsville scored three times in the seventh to earn the win.
Park Hill South 13, Belton 6
A pair of errors helped the Panthers overcome an early deficit in their season opener Wednesday, March 23 in Belton, Mo.
Park Hill South scored three times in the top of the second inning with only one hit, Patrick Sparks’ double to deep center field. The Panthers were up 3-1 at that point and scored at least one run in each of the final six innings, including five run-scoring extra base hits.
Ryan Callahan hit an RBI double in the third and scored one batter later on Thigpen’s RBI groundout after a stolen base. In the fifth, Thigpen hit an RBI triple to score Callahan. Ryan Hagen added an RBI triple in the sixth, while Andrew Aswegan added a solo home run two batters later in a three-run inning.
Malik Stevenson capped the scoring with an RBI triple off the bench in the seventh, scoring one batter later on pinch hitter Blaaze Booth’s RBI groundout.
Park Hill South used five pitchers, each allowing at least one run. Belton did go scoreless in the fourth and fifth and trailed 13-4 entering the bottom of the seventh.
Metro Leadoff Classic
Park Hill 7, Raymore-Peculiar 3
The Trojans jumped to an early lead and held on Tuesday, March 22 in their place game of the season-opening tournament.
Raymore-Peculiar scored single runs in the bottom of the fourth, fifth and seventh innings, but each came after Park Hill plated runs in the top of the frame. The Trojans held leads of 2-0, 4-0, 6-1 and 7-2.
Nate Thompson collected three of Park Hill’s nine hits from the No. 9 spot, driving in two. Conner Morehosue drove in two and scored two, while Preston Cross scored two. Chase McCollom also recorded a pair of RBIs from the No. 8 spot.