Drew Townsend started the scoring and ended it in a Class 5 District 16 semifinal game on Monday, May 13.
The Park Hill sophomore delivered a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift his team to a 2-1 win against Oak Park in the semifinals at Staley High School.
The win vaulted the No. 2 seeded Trojans into the district title game on Tuesday, May 14 vs. Staley. Results of the game were not available by press time and will be in the next issue of The Citizen.
Park Hill (15-13) went up 1-0 early on the Northmen in the contest behind a two-out RBI single from Townsend in the first inning. When he came to bat with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, he delivered again.
“I had two strikes on me so I choked up and widened my stance just a little,” said Townsend, Park Hill’s cleanup hitter. “I knew that I needed a little blooper to score Joe (Daneff) from second. I got a great 0-2 pitch and I did what I could with it. I’m glad that it turned out the way that it did.”
Daneff, a Dodge City Community College signee, reached on an error and then went to second base on another error, this one on a pickoff attempt. Carter Jensen walked to set up Townsend’s matchup with Jacob Blivins.
Townsend fouled off the first two pitches before getting the game-winner on a blooper to center field.
That was Park Hill’s six hit and he had two of them — as did Daneff.
Oak Park (12-19) got a run in the top of the seventh to force a tie and extra innings.
Michael Martinez got a leadoff walk and moved to second on a passed ball. Another walk, this one to Logan Whitley, put on two runners.
An error loaded the bases before Dayton Davis’ fielder’s choice scored Martinez. Whitley got out in a run down to end the inning on what turned out to be a double play a batter later.
Park Hill got the first run on Townsend’s first hit, a single to right field in the bottom of the first.
Daneff reached with a one-out single and then swiped second base on a delayed steal. He moved to third on a long fly ball by Jensen to deep center and Townsend hit the second pitch he saw for the RBI.
Kansas City CC signee Zayne Morrow got the win for the Trojans, throwing an inning of scoreless relief in the eighth, striking out two. Crowder College signee Chandler Ashby started and went six innings and struck out eight and gave up two hits.
Staley 5, Platte County 1
In the other semifinal game on Monday, May 13, the Pirates and Falcons were tied going into the bottom of the sixth inning.
That was when the Class 5 No. 2-ranked Falcons scored four runs to pull away and move into the championship.
Staley (24-5) took advantage of free passes and a timely error to break the tie. Quinten Arello singled and moved up on a sac bunt. Jake Wilson and Frankie Circello both walked to load the bases.
The Pirates got what they wanted, a ground ball, but an error on the throw allowed two runs to score. Landon Donaldson hit a fielder’s choice that got another out but another run came home.
Donovan Meloy delivered a two-out RBI single to make it 5-1.
Platte County (17-12) went down in order in the top of the seventh against relief pitcher Max Pretz to end the game.
Prior to that, the Pirates did very well against Division I signee Carter Rustad. The right-hander struck out 11 and gave up only two hits, but Platte County made him work and he threw his MSHSAA limit of 105 pitches, meaning he couldn’t come out to pitch the seventh.
“By the third inning he had 60 pitches so you could see him tire a bit, but at the end he was commanding pitches,” Platte County coach John Sipes said. “I think he struck out six straight but with that he threw a lot of pitches. We felt really confident going into (the seventh) because we wouldn’t have to face him and we would get the No. 2 or 3 (starter), but one bad hop and it is a different story.”
The lone run for Platte County came in the top of the second against Rustad, who signed with the University of San Diego.
Glen Gammill and Nolan Saale had back-to-back walks — the only ones issued by Rustad — before Dayton Mitchell reached on an error and that allowed Gammill to score.
Staley tied the game in the bottom half of the inning on Peyton Revis’ RBI single that scored Circello, who led off with a double.
Platte County starter Ethan Esdohr gave up five runs, but only two were earned. The right-handed hurler that will be at Pitt State next year struck out two and scattered seven hits in six innings.
“We were confident going in with Ethan on the bump, we have the opportunity to beat anyone,” Sipes said.
The first-year Pirates coach thought his Pirates would have a chance to upset Staley, which lost in the district semifinals last year.
After the game, Sipes and the other assistant coaches said goodbye to a talented senior class earlier than he thought.
“I was ready for celebration, not sorrow, I promise you that,” Sipes said. “I wasn’t prepared for that. Like I said, with the good comes the bad as a coach.”
Platte County 2, St. Joseph Central 0
The Pirates opened the district play with a combined shutout from Grant Allen and Dalton Riechers on Saturday, May 11.
Allen went five innings and gave up four hits, while Riechers tossed the final two innings to secure the save.
The only runs came in the third inning.
Trent Rueckert singled with two outs and then moved to second on Riechers’ single. Ethan Esdohr hit an RBI single to left field to make it 1-0. An error on the pitcher allowed Riechers to score the game’s final run. Riechers was 2-for-3, the only player for Platte County with multiple hits.
Oak Park 5, Park Hill South 3
The Northmen scored four runs in the sixth inning to rally for a win against the Panthers on Saturday, May 11 in an opening round game.
The Panthers (16-15) took a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning but had only two hits after that.
Park Hill South got a single from Will Fricker to open the fourth inning and a pair of errors allowed him to score. Michael Allen scored on an error and Jackson Dixon doubled to collect the lone RBI for the Panthers to cap the scoring.
Oak Park got a run back on an error in the fourth inning before the outburst in the sixth inning. Three runs scored on an error, while Kael Davis had an RBI fielder’s choice.