Platte County senior pitcher Sawyer Allen shares a laugh with junior catcher Cameron Dean during Friday's game with Winnetonka at Platte County High School. ROSS MARTIN/PC Preps Extra

Allen tosses perfect game with 10 strikeouts in win over Winnetonka

Platte County finishes doubleheader sweep with 10-shutout behind Pirates senior left-hander’s historic pitching performance.
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Dayton Doll spiraled around in the grass with concentration on a popup and not two outfielders bearing down on him in pursuit of the ball — wholly unaware of the stakes involved in making the play.

Platte County senior Sawyer Allen delivers a pitch against Winnetonka on Friday at Platte County High School. He struck out 10 and threw a six-inning perfect game.

Perhaps neither did Platte County junior third baseman Nick Baker when he first knocked down a grounder and calmly collected himself to throw out a runner for the final out of the bottom of the fifth inning Friday evening. Same with junior first baseman Dylan Robertson casually dropping the ball on an exchange after catching a throw down after a dropped third strike to open the sixth nor junior right fielder Dylan Zimmerman when he slipped on his first step before hauling in a routine fly ball for the second out on the next pitch.

Then came the circuitous route for Doll, a freshman second baseman, to record a final historic out against Winnetonka for senior pitcher Sawyer Allen, who became perhaps the first in program history to pitch a perfect game in the Pirates’ 10-0 run-rule victory. He struck out 10 batters and needed just 69 pitches to navigate through the Griffins’ lineup twice without allowing a runner.

Platte County junior third baseman recovers to collect a ground ball before throwing to first base for the third out of the fifth inning Friday against Winnetonka at Platte County High School.

“A couple of times (my heart skipped a beat), we had a couple really close plays — especially the last one that Dayton Doll had to make,” Allen said. “That was probably the scariest one out of all of them because you had the two outfielders coming in and Dayton running out, and that’s one of those scary plays for anybody.”

Uniquely, Platte County played as the visitor in the second half of a doubleheader after weather forced the postponement of the teams’ first meeting. The Pirates won both games but in the opener surrendered a six-run lead before prevailing 8-6 on a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth.

The offense persisted for Platte County behind Allen with sophomore center fielder going 1-for-2 with a three-run home run, two walks and three runs scored from the leadoff spot. Baker and senior designated hitter Eli Nelson added clutch RBI doubles, while Doll and senior shortstop Cameron Lewis both tripled and scored. The Pirates scored in four of six innings and were up 1-0 after the first, 5-0 after the second and 9-0 after the fourth, but a scoreless fifth forced Allen back to the mound for the sixth.

As the zeroes piled up, Allen tried to avoid any talk about the performance and possibility of at least a no-hitter and perhaps a perfect game.

Platte County sophomore Devin Wassmann hits a three-run home run against Winnetonka on Friday at Platte County High School.

“Basically, it kind of happened whenever we hit the fourth inning,” Allen said. “I realized I was throwing a perfect game, and everybody tried talking to me, so I just tried to make everyone shut up about it because one rule about throwing any no-hitter, perfect game is don’t say it at all. Don’t say the words.”

In the top of the sixth, Lewis led off and lofted a well-hit pop fly that the Winnetonka right fielder misjudged, and the ball skipped to the wall for a good-luck triple. Zimmerman then followed with a sacrifice fly, allowing Lewis to slide home with the potential winning run.

Baker added his third hit, a single, but ended up stranded, leaving Allen with the need for three outs. He struck out the first batter on four pitches and needed just three more to induce two mostly routine fly balls.

On the second, Doll ventured into shallow right field to make the catch with Wassmann and Zimmerman also in pursuit and avoiding a collision for a memorable final out.

Platte County freshman Dayton Doll records the final out of senior pitcher Sawyer Allen’s perfect game against Winnetonka on Friday at Platte County High School.

Allen didn’t have a single three-ball count in the game, throwing 49 strikes and striking out at least one batter in each inning — K’ing the side in the third. The closest the Griffins came to producing a runner came on the ground ball to Baker with two outs in the fifth that required him to collect the ball and make a solid throw and multiple dropped third strikes for junior catcher Cameron Dean, who made solid throws to first each time.

“We kept talking about it,” Allen said. “Most of them were all curveballs that I threw that were dropped third (strikes) so it was kind of just they were swinging at it so it was just kind of one of those pitches you can’t really catch. We knew he was going to throw it down there because he was throwing me the ball pretty quick, so it was at a pretty tight pace so I figured he get them down there.”

With Doll coming off the bench, Sipes used the opportunity to shuffle Platte County’s lineup and put Wassmann in the leadoff spot. He opened with a walk and scored three batters later on Baker’s two-out double to the left field wall to put the Pirates up 1-0.

The second for Platte County started with a single for Nelson, and junior James Schwieder’s popped-up sacrifice bunt found the infield grass with the umpire ruling the ball foul. Nelson advanced to third with Schwieder safe at first.

Platte County senior shortstop Cameron Lewis watches his sixth-inning triple against Winnetonka on Friday at Platte County High School.

Dean followed with a sacrifice fly to score Nelson for a 2-0 lead. After a strikeout, Platte County sophomore second baseman Andrew Habel, who started both games in front of Doll, worked a walk to bring up Wassmann again.

This time, the Division I commit layered a fly ball well over the right field wall for a three-run home run.

“He’s batted in the three hole all year, and I think he’s put too much pressure on himself to be the guy to drive in the run,” Platte County coach John Sipes said. “He just hasn’t quite get it yet, so I thought, you know what I’m just going to put him at leadoff and see what happens. And he basically became like a new hitter today. He was very selective with his pitch, his approach. He didn’t extend the strike zone at all, waited on his pitch and you saw it.”

Allen, who hadn’t pitched in a week due to a quirk in the schedule that created six off days after 21 games in 29 days to open the season, came out well-rested and working with pace. He recorded his first strikeout to end the bottom of the first, added two more to start the second and then mowed through the Griffins on 14 pitches in the third, giving him six punchouts at that point.

Platte County freshman Dayton Doll hits a triple against Winnetonka on Friday at Platte County High School.

“I figured basically after the first two innings (I had good stuff),” Allen said. “I was on over a week’s rest so I felt pretty good going into the game. When I was warming up, I felt like I was throwing a bit harder than I used to be. I just felt better than I had.”

Platte County neared the run-run scenario in the fourth when Doll pinch hit and laced a one-out triple to center field. He scored on a passed ball while Wassmann and Lewis walked with Wassmann also coming home on a passed ball to make it 7-0. Baker scored Lewis with an RBI single and then came home on Nelson’s double to left field to open a 9-0 advantage.

In the fifth, Dean singled, but senior courtesy runner and fellow catcher Jake Knudsen ended up stranded at third, meaning Platte County would need to go at least six innings for the win. The Pirates continued to make all the plays, while Allen struck out one in each of the final two innings before celebrating his unique and possibly one-of-a-kind accomplishment.

There is no record of another perfect game for Platte County of five or more innings.

“He was able to keep the ball down,” Sipes said. “He was very composed tonight, and I think he was having fun. He was bouncing off the mound; he was dancing and all this. His attitude and the way he was approaching each pitch was locked in and laser-focused. He was pretty special today.”

Platte County junior first baseman Dylan Robertson prepares to make a catch against Winnetonka on Friday at Platte County High School.

Platte County 8, Winnetonka 6

Nelson doubled in the go-ahead run, and Robertson added an insurance RBI single in the bottom of the sixth of Friday’s doubleheader opener at Platte County High School.

Platte County junior reliever Tyler Erickson earned the win, recording the final two outs of the sixth and working around a two-out walk in the seventh. Winnetonka trailed 6-0 but scored five in the top of the fifth against Scwhieder, who started and struck out six but walked three, and senior reliever Ben Spence. Schwieder walked two around a hit batter to load the bases in the sixth then allowed a sacrifice fly and a run-scoring double.

Winnetonka then collected a two-run triple against Spence with that runner coming home on a passed ball to close the deficit to 6-5.

Platte County immediately went down in order in the bottom of the fifth, and Spence exited in the sixth after a one-out walk. Erickson allowed a hard-luck RBI single for the tying run, charged to Spence, on a well-placed pop-up over second base. He then worked out of a bases-loaded jam when Knudsen — the starting catcher in the game — threw in behind the runner at first for an inning-ending pickoff.

With the score at 6-6, Platte County staged a two-out rally to take the lead.

Knudsen singled, and Zimmerman, courtesy running for the catcher, scored on Nelson’s double to center field. He came around on Robertson’s pinch-hit, two-strike single to make it 8-6.

Platte County junior right fielder Dylan Zimmerman makes a catch against Winnetonka on Friday at Platte County High School.

“The fact that they knew they could do it,” Sipes said of the best part about the response to losing the six-run lead. “They weren’t scare of the situation. They didn’t lay down and say it is what it is. They took charge. They knew we needed at least a run, and they came and did what they had to do.”

Baker went 2-for-3 with two doubles, three RBIs and a run scored, while Knudsen had a pair of hits and a run batted in. Wimberly led off for Platte County in this game and opened the bottom of the first with a single but only scored on a two-out error that allowed Allen, the starting first baseman when not on the mound, to advance to third and then score on Baker’s double three pitches later to make it 2-0.

Platte County seemingly took control for good with a four-run third that started with a one-out walk for Lewis before Wassmann reached on a hit by pitch. After a popout, Baker’s two-out double scored two to make it 4-0, and he came home on a wild pitch and passed ball to make it a five-run lead.

Schwieder eventually worked a walk with two out and stole second before Knudsen capped the four-run inning with an RBI single to left field.

Platte County 3, Mexico 1

The Pirates scored all three runs in the bottom of the sixth to earn a win Monday at Platte County High School in a last-minute game added to the schedule.

Zimmerman started and pitched four innings for Platte County, allowing only one unearned run on one walk and one hit with one strikeout. Pirates senior reliever Kole Jenks pitched the final three innings, working around a pair of hits with four strikeouts.

Despite the strong pitching, Platte County trailed from the top of the third until the bottom of the sixth. The Pirates totaled three of their eight hits and two of their three walks in that frame, quickly loading the bases on a walk for Wimberly and singles for Allen and Robertson.

The tying run came home on a sacrifice fly for Nelson, who went 1-for-2 with a triple — the only extra-base hit in the game for Platte County. A passed ball allowed the remaining two runners to move into scoring position with one out, and Dean, who went 2-for-3, singled them both home on a 2-1 pitch to make it 3-1. The Pirates eventually left a pair of runners on base, but Jenks worked around a one-out single with his fourth strikeout and pop out to shortstop.

Mexico’s run came after a two-out error in the third. Zimmerman then walked the next batter before allowing a run-scoring single to center field.

With the comeback win, Platte County has now won seven of the past eight before re-entering conference play Wednesday against Kearney. The Pirates’ sweep of Winnetonka made them 9-1 with the lone loss so far against Kearney (14-9), which started its season 0-5 overall but is now 5-0 in the Blue Division.

Sipes welcomed Robertson back from injury against Winnetonka and continued to give at-bats to multiple players, showing off Platte County’s depth and potential at the plate. Sixteen players have double-digit plate appearances this season, but Wassmann, Wimberly, Doll, Baker and Nelson have established themselves as key pieces in the shifting lineup with a plethora of contributing options.

“We use the first half of the season to get some guys the at-bats and see who is going to gel and who was not,” Sipes said. “I think we have some quality components to putting a good team on the field right now.”

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