With the potential tying run at third base, Collin Brougham came up with the biggest pitches of his career.
Park Hill South’s junior right-hander worked himself into trouble in a Class 5 District 16 first round matchup with rival Park Hill then worked himself out. The Trojans climbed within one run in the bottom of the seventh on Chase McCollom’s RBI groundout, but Brougham struck out junior outfielder Liam Henry on three pitches to leave senior Ashton Brady at third base.
After losing twice to Park Hill earlier in the season, Park Hill South escaped with a 2-1 victory Saturday, May 13 at Platte County High School.
“He did exactly what he’s supposed to do,” Park Hill coach Greg Reynolds said of the final at-bat. “Liam’s a hell of a player all the way around and I wouldn’t want anybody else at the plate for that last at bat and he knows that.”
Park Hill swept a doubleheader between the two teams earlier in the season.
The same two pitchers started who were on the mound for the dramatic second game of the twinbill last month. This matchup featured the same dramatics but not nearly the same amount of offense.
Instead, Park Hill South senior Ryan Hagen struck out 12 in six innings and exited with a two-run lead. Henry — the left-handed ace for the Trojans — went 6 2/3 innings, limiting the Panthers to one run in the second before an error allowed them to take a 2-0 lead in the top of the seventh.
In the previous meeting, Park Hill South squared up Henry and held a 9-2 lead before Park Hill put up nine in the bottom of the sixth and held on for an 11-9 win. Henry struck out seven this time around, limiting the Panthers to just three singles.
“That was his most complete game not because he went seven innings but all of his pitches were working and he got ahead in the count,” Reynolds said. “He hasn’t really gone past six innings all year, and he just battled.”
Park Hill South, the No. 5 seed in the six-team bracket, came up with just enough ways to score.
In the second, Hagen led off with a single and moved to third on a pair of wild pitches. Park Hill nearly escaped the jam after a one-out walk to Billy Eggers, but Stephen Personelli beat out a potential double play grounder to drive in Hagen for the early lead.
Henry retired the next eight in a row and worked around singles in the fifth and sixth.
In the seventh, Jake Evans reached on an error and moved to third on a passed ball and groundout. Henry struck out Personelli for the second out, but Reynolds went to the bullpen after a two-out walk.
Brougham, who started the game in left field, then delivered an RBI single on the first pitch from Ethan Boyd to plate an unearned run and increase the lead to 2-0.
In the seventh, Brougham started the inning by hitting sophomore Joseph Daneff with a pitch and then walking Brady. Tyler Watson’s sacrifice bunt moved the runners into scoring position before McCollom brought in the Trojans’ only run.
Park Hill South advanced into the Monday, May 15 title game, losing 5-1 to Platte County.
Park Hill’s season ended at 13-14 after a bizarre season that included a long winning streak and long losing skid. The Trojans won eight straight early in the year and were at 10-2 before coming out of the Northland Tournament with back-to-back losses at 12-6.
Nine straight losses in Suburban Conference Gold Division play were part of a disastrous stretch before Park Hill beat Raymore-Peculiar in the regular season finale ahead of the loss to Park Hill South. The Trojans finished the season losing 12 of their final 15 games.
“We were hot and cold,” Reynolds said. “Problem is we all got cold at the same time, and we could never get our four or five guys hot like we were at the first. As our pitching got better, which we knew was going to be the downfall, our hitting went down and we just couldn’t get back.
“They worked their asses off and they did everything we asked them to do.”