CONCORDIA, Mo. — West Platte found a way to advance to the Class 2 District 16 semifinals but didn’t have enough firepower to continue its strong postseason pedigree. After turning over their entire pitching staff from a year ago, the Bluejays romped to an 8-3 win over Wellington-Napoleon in the first round but couldn’t muster more than one hit in a 12-2 five-inning, season-ending loss to second-seeded Concordia on Monday, May 15.
West Platte had advanced to the Class 2 playoffs in three of the previous four seasons.
Concordia experienced success against West Platte pithcers Wyatt Kleman, Nathan Plummer and Noah Johnson throughout the semifinal matchup, and the Cardinals scored in all four innings. Down 6-0, the Bluejays grabbed one run back in the third with Noah Johnson’s single turning into a run on an error.
West Platte scored again in the fifth when Johnson walked with one out, advanced to third on two wild pitches and came home on Connor McNair’s groundout. However, the slow start made coach Tanner Lawson seem prophetic about his team’s chances.
“For some reason, this team has slow starts, and I don’t know how many teams have jumped out on us early and then we have to fight back,” he said after the first round win over Wellington-Napoleon. “If you face a good team, that’s going to come back and bite you in the rear end so hopefully we get a fast start on Monday and keep it going.”
Instead, the careers of West Platte seniors Alec Carson, Kyle Tabaka, Jack Summers, Jonah Vandal and McNair came to a difficult end.
In the first round game Thursday, May 11 in Concordia, Mo., West Platte never trailed, taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third after Johnson reached on an error and scored on another. Kleman, who started, threw three scoreless innings before getting into a jam in the top of the fourth, but reliever Nathan Plummer limited the damage to just one run.
After Kleman walked in a run, Plummer stranded the bases loaded, coming in with a full count and throwing one pitch to record the inning-ending strikeout.
“(Kleman) threw really well the first three innings, had some control problems but nothing like he has been,” Lawson said. “He gave us three good innings and then the fourth inning he started out good and then that pitch count comes in and to bring in Nathan with the bases loaded and have to throw one strike on a full count.”
West Platte then took the lead for good with four runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Back-to-back singles from Jasper Basel and Grant Eagen started the big inning with both advancing on a wild pitch. Summers then scored one with an RBI groundout, and Carson followed with an RBI bunt single to make it 3-1.
Going to second on a throwing error, Carson then scored on Tabaka’s single, and Johnson drove him in to make it 5-1.
“Coach said we needed more than three so I knew what I had to do and I kept fighting and we just had to get it done,” Tabaka said.
Wellington-Napoleon scored one in the fifth and one in the seventh, but Tabaka doubled in two runs in the fifth to stretch the lead. West Platte’s final run came in the sixth when Johnson singled home Phillip Pattison to make it 8-2.