The chase for the Suburban Conference Blue Division championship ended with a 4-2 loss to Smithville on Monday at Platte County High School.
Platte County dropped a third straight game, the second in a row in league play, as a common theme persisted: missed opportunities. The Pirates stranded six total runners, including leaving the bases loaded in the third inning after scoring just one run in the frame.
Ryker Edwards, a sophomore outfielder, hit a pair of home runs to account for all of Smithville’s runs, and the Warriors (21-6) continued what became a 19-game winning streak before a loss Saturday to Raymore-Peculiar in nonconference play.
“It’s hard to say. I don’t know,” Platte County coach Brett Sipes said. “It’s almost kind of like we’ve been snakebitten by so many line drives that have just been right at people, kids are like, ‘What else do I gotta do?’ It’s kind of like getting punched and punched again and not finding any return.”
Overall, Platte County (15-7, 8-3 Blue Division) has lost five of nine after a fast start to the season. The Pirates were looking to avenge a prior tight loss to Smithville, and a home run from sophomore Jeter Mauzey tied the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the second.
Edwards, who hit a solo home run in the first inning, answered with a three-run bomb in the top of the third to make it 4-1 and give Smithville the lead for good.
“It just seems like luck is not on our side at this point,” Sipes said.
Platte County ended up with four hits but also drew four walks.
In the bottom of the third, Smithville committed a pair of errors and then added a walk to Mauzey to load the bases. Pirates junior Eli Nelson then drew another walk to close the gap to 4-2, but junior shortstop Cameron Lewis popped up to the pitcher to end the threat.
Neither team scored the rest of the way, and Platte County hit into inning-ending double plays in the fourth and the sixth. In the bottom of the seventh and the Pirates still needing two runs, junior catcher Jake Knudsen walked with one out, and sophomore outfielder Garrett Smith, who has moved into the leadoff spot, singled with two outs.
That brought the potential winning run to the plate, but senior center fielder Dayton Mitchell struck out.
“We’re just missing that one big two-hit inning,” Sipes said.
All four Smithville runs were charged to Platte County senior left-handed starter Sawyer Allen, who struck out eight and only walked one in six innings. The Pirates have utilized a deep pitching staff in recent weeks with a high number of games, but Sipes knows he can now focus on stretching out his top guys for the stretch run.
Platte County drew the No. 2 seed in Class 5 District 8 behind No. 1 Smithville and ahead of No. 3 Kearney, who split two one-run games with the Pirates this season. Allen, junior right-hander Landon Fulk and senior Jackson McMahan, who worked a scoreless seventh in the loss to the Warriors, will likely be the top pitchers once the postseason hits.
“We’ve kind of got to narrow it down to our top three to five, and we’re just going to ride those big guys until we can’t ride them anymore,” Sipes said.
First, Platte County must finish its league schedule at Winnetonka on Monday before a pair of nonconference games. The Pirates will hope the timely hits resurface with the goal to earn a third shot at Smithville down the road.
Platte County 14, Ruskin 0 (5 innings)
The Pirates overwhelmed an outmatched opponent Wednesday in what was the final game to be played at Platte County High School’s home field.
Making the most of 10 hits, Platte County scored in all four times at the plate, putting up five in the first and fourth. Pirates senior starter Alex McClure allowed just one hit and struck out 10 in four scoreless innings, while junior Kole Jenks worked a perfect fifth on just eight pitches to close out the victory.
Mauzey went 1-for-2 and homered for a second straight game, driving in two and scoring twice. Platte County senior Same Peterson also had a pair of hits, including a double, while also recording a pair of RBIs.
After McClure worked around a pair of walks in the top of the first, Mauzey quickly put Platte County up 2-0 with a two-run home run in the bottom half of the inning that scored Mitchell, who was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Peterson and Knudsen added RBI singles later in the inning to build the 5-0 lead.
Peterson doubled in Mauzey after he walked in the second to make it 7-0. Allen had an RBI triple in the fourth to put the run-rule in play at 10-0, and the Pirates scored four more with the big hits a two-out triple from Mitchell to score Allen and an RBI double from Lewis on the next pitch.
After the game, Platte County held a groundbreaking ceremony on the baseball field, which will be part of Phase 1 of construction for the new high school as part of district-wide improvements voters approved in April. The current baseball field will be part of the ground the new high school building will take up, and a new facility will be build west of the current football field where trees have already been cleared to make room for that improvement.