WESTON, Mo. — With the offense slow to start, West Platte’s returning aces kept the season opener close Monday, March 21 at Benner Park with a dominating performance.
The pitching reigned supreme for the Bluejays in 1-0 win against Maur Hill-Mount Academy. Luke Horseman picked up his first win of the year, throwing five innings of scoreless work, while McKaulley Stephenson came in on relief for two shutout innings.
The senior duo, which led West Platte to a third-place state finish in Class 2 last year, combined for 19 strikeouts.
“It felt good to get back out there, that’s for sure,” said Horseman, who struck out 14 in five innings. “After I got the first out, It relieved a lot of stress. I was a little nervous at first. I just had to buckle down and throw strikes.
“I knew I had my fastball grooving.”
West Platte recorded just two hits and produced three total base runners.
The Bluejays made a walk and single in the third inning count. Senior shortstop Brett Shepardson led off the frame with a walk against MH-MA starter Harry Trotter, and he stole second and scored on an RBI-single from Michael Devers.
Trotter threw a complete game and allowed only one more runner on Kyle Tabaka’s sixth-inning single with one out.
“First game out, first live pitching,” West Platte coach Tanner Lawson said. “We don’t do a lot of live pitching in practice because we don’t want to wear our arms down. We’ll come around with the bats. As long as we can pitch well and play good defense. Hopefully, we’ll get a run here or there.”
MH-MA produced three hits and four walks, putting a runner in scoring position in every inning. The Junior Ravens stranded all nine runners and missed a chance to tie the score in the fifth when freshman Parker Mispagel failed to come around from second on a single off of Horseman.
Stephenson came to start the sixth inning and worked around a hit, a walk and a hit batter using five strikeouts.
“They are a good 1-2 punch,” Lawson said. “I didn’t want to use Mac as much with us playing Lawson on Thursday, but we have to get a win when we can get a win. They both threw OK the first time out. It’s a nice weapon to have.”
Game 2: West Platte 15, MH-MA 4, 6 innings
The Bluejays bats didn’t stay cold for long.
The offense came to life in the nightcap of Monday’s doubleheader. West Platte rattled off 22 hits in the second game of the season. Horseman went 5-for-5 with a pair of doubles and Shepardson went 4-for-4 — all singles — to lead the way. The Bluejays led 6-4 after the fifth inning and tallied a nine-run sixth to invoke the run rule.
Shepardson and senior catcher Peyton Morris and pitched three innings each with both allowing a pair of runs. The pair combined for 11 strikeouts while allowing 10 hits.
Stephenson (3-for-3), Devers (3-for-4), and junior infielders Jack Summers and Connor McNair each finished 2-for-3 to round out the players with multiple hits.
Game 1: South Nodaway 5, North Platte 4
Game 2: South Nodaway 4, North Platte 0
The Panthers dropped both sides of a doubleheader Monday, March 21 in Barnard, Mo.
North Platte led the first game 2-1 after the first and 4-3 after the third, but the Longhorns rallied in the bottom of the fourth and North Platte didn’t answer again. Garrett Lamar knocked in a pair, and Bryntin Crockett also added an RBI to the ledger.
North Platte senior pitcher Blake Toliver allowed five runs on six hits while striking out 7 to take the loss. Panthers senior Andrew Roberts took the loss in the second game while striking out six over four innings of work.
Both were scheduled five-inning games.
Metro Leadoff Classic
Park Hill 8, Oak Park 4
The Trojans rallied from a 4-2 deficit heading into the sixth inning to plate six runs in the final two frames in their pool play finale of the 10-team tournament Monday, March 21 at Liberty North high School in Liberty, Mo.
Park Hill sophomore outfielder Liam Henry led off the sixth, reaching on an error. He stole second and scored on an RBI single from junior catcher Conner Morehouse. Trevor Guzzo and Zach Suppes both came through with two-out singles to extend the inning.
In the seventh, Nate Thompson and Guzzo both added insurance with RBI singles after four straight walks or hit by pitches to start the frame for the Trojans. Morehouse drew an RBI walk to start the scoring in the frame.
Park Hill 3, Rockhurst 2
The Trojans scored three times in the bottom of the sixth inning to reverse the game Saturday, March 19 at Liberty North High School.
Tyler Watson earned the game-winning RBI with a hit by pitch with the bases loaded. Morehouse led off the inning with a single which was followed by a hit batsman and a sacrifice bunt to move the tying run into scoring position. Suppes and Chase McCollom then hit back-to-back two-out RBI singles to tie things up before the winning hit by pitch.
Liberty North 10, Park Hill 4
The Trojans let an early lead slip in their season opener at the Liberty Leadoff at Liberty North High School on Friday, March 18. Lucas Youtsey, Preston Cross and Morehouse each tallied an RBI but eight runs over the final four innings from the hosts proved to be too much to overcome.