Platte County sophomore rightfielder Rocco Marriott celebrates a triple with coach John Sipes during Thursday's Class 5 District 8 semifinal against Smithville at Creekside Baseball Park in Parkville. ROSS MARTIN/PC Preps Extra

Platte County pummels Smithville, advances to Class 5 District 8 title game

Carter nearly perfect over 5 innings, while Pirates back left-handed ace with 14 runs on 16 hits in semifinal blowout.

PARKVILLE, Mo. — Brayden Carter likely wouldn’t have need much run support.

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Platte County senior Brayden Carter delivers a pitch against Smithville in a Class 5 District 8 semifinal Thursday at Creekside Baseball Park in Parkville.

Platte County left no doubt, scoring scoring in each time at bat in backing the senior ace left-handed ace in what ended up a demonstrative 14-0 five-inning blowout of rival Smithville in Thursday’s Class 5 District 8 semifinal at Creekside Baseball Park. The Pirates manufactured five runs over the first three innings before blowing the game open with nine in the fourth to put the run-rule in play.

Carter allowed just one hit and only two baserunners, striking out six in a nearly perfect performance that only adds to his growing postseason legacy.

“Playoff BC is a whole different beast,” Platte County senior centerfielder Devin Wassmann said of Carter, who earned a spot in the pitching rotation late in his sophomore season and went on to become an integral piece in the Pirates’ 2022 Class 5 state championship team. “As soon as he took the mound, we knew it was going to be like that.”

Platte County (20-11) turned junior designated hitter Liam Blacklock’s leadoff single in the bottom of the first into a 1-0 lead, and in the second, sophomore Rocco Marriott blasted a triple over the Smithville right fielder’s head. He scored two batters later on junior left fielder Patrick McCool’s sacrifice fly. The Pirates went on to load the bases on a second walk for Blacklock and singles from junior infielders Taylor Stambersky and Dayton Doll.

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Platte County senior Brian Chandler hits a two-run single in a Class 5 District 8 semifinal Thursday at Creekside Baseball Park in Parkville.

The lead increased to 3-0 when Platte County senior first baseman Brian Chandler poked a single to right field, scoring Blacklock. However, Doll misread the runner in front of him and ended up thrown out trying to scramble back to second base on the play. The Pirates stranded Stambersky and Chandler in the first after their walks, and the out on the base paths plus two more runners left on base originally limited the damage.

However, Platte County went on to collect 16 hits with Chandler and sophomore third baseman Brennan McLaughlin driving in three apiece, and McCool and senior catcher Tyler Stearns adding two RBIs each.

“Heck yeah, baby,” said Wassmann, who went 1-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and an RBI. “When one person (got) on, everybody else was just getting on — one after another. That’s how the game was. It was nice.

After a 3-8 start, Platte County has now won 17 of the last 20 going into Monday’s scheduled Class 5 District 8 championship game against top-seeded Kearney (27-7). First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Creekside, weather permitting.

Kearney has won 12 straight and won the prior matchup between the 3-1 back in mid-March.

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Platte County junior Taylor Stambersky comes home with a run in a Class 5 District 8 semifinal Thursday at Creekside Baseball Park in Parkville.

That came during Platte County’s slow start, and the Pirates have developed an identity around the strong hitting of Blacklock, Stambersky and Doll at the top of the lineup with Chandler having become a reliable cleanup hitter, especially in clutch situations. The Pirates have also utilized a three-pitcher rotation in the biggest games with Carter and fellow senior Isaiah Smith taking turns starting and closing around McLaughlin in middle relief.

Kearney will likely start senior ace Eli Helberg, who held Platte County to one run in five innings to earn the win in the first meeting. He struck out six and allowed only two hits but walked five to best Carter, charged with three runs — only two earned — in six innings.

“We have some returners from the state team, and we know what it takes to get back to there,” Wassmann said. “And our younger guys are falling in line, too, which they know what it takes, too, to get to that level.”

Earning the No. 2 seed, Platte County allowed only one hit total in the first two district wins after no-hitting seventh-seeded Van Horn (9-17) in Wednesday’s first round matchup. The majority of those runs came on walks, hit batters and Falcons errors.

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Platte County senior catcher Tyler Stearns swings at a pitch in a Class 5 District 8 semifinal Thursday at Creekside Baseball Park in Parkville.

The onslaught against third-seeded Smithville (17-16) looked much different.

McLaughlin started the third with a controversial one-out infield single and then came home on Stearns’ triple to deep left field with two outs. Smithville’s coaches felt McLaughlin had been out on a close play at first.

McCool followed Stearns’ big hit with a single down the line in left field to plate junior courtesy runner Brady Davis and put the Pirates up 3-0.

“Hustling, every little thing, it can result to that right there,” Wassmann said. “That’s what we did: taking advantage of every little small opportunity.”

McCool recently returned from a shoulder injury and seems to have a hold the starting spot in left field, which has featured a three-player rotation the position. Platte County has also used senior Drew Boyer and junior Bronson Ryan, who is now out injured, at times, but McCool has provided a a boost at the bottom of the lineup after opening the season in the leadoff spot only to miss nearly two months.

“I’ll tell you (McCool) is one of the best teammates I’ve ever had,” Wassmann said. “He’s always picking people up, and for a junior to do that and take that role on this team, he’s a great teammate.”

Carter retired the first 11 batters he faced before Smithville ended the perfect game on Jacob Kruse’s double to deep right-center field. The Warriors’ only other runner other to reach base came on a hard-luck error with two outs in the fifth when Doll went deep in the hole to shortstop but threw high to first base trying to complete the play.

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Platte County junior outfielder Patrick McCool hits a ball in a Class 5 District 8 semifinal Thursday at Creekside Baseball Park in Parkville.

Two pitches later, Smithville sophomore Barrett Iverson grounded to Stambersky at second, and he flipped to Doll to finish off the win. The Warriors won a dramatic matchup between the two teams in the same round of district play last year.

In the regular season matchup between the two teams, Platte County let a late lead slip away before coming right back for a 4-3 win on Chandler’s walkoff single in the bottom of the seventh.

“It’s a great feeling,” Wassmann said. “It was a statement game. There was a lot of controversy regarding this game coming into it so we kind of had a chip on our shoulder, which carried into all our guys — younger guys and older guys. It was a great team win. That’s for sure.

Platte County nearly finished the game in the fourth but came up one short of the 15-run rule after three or four innings. Stamberksy, Doll and Chandler loaded the bases with three straight singles, and Wassmann forced in a run with a walk. McLaughlin followed with a three-run triple and came home on Marriott’s single to center field, and Stearns added an RBI double to increase the lead to 11-0.

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Platte County junior shortstop reacts to being hit by a pitch in a Class 5 District 8 semifinal Thursday at Creekside Baseball Park in Parkville.

Smithville induced an RBI groundout from Blacklock for the second out that also left the bases empty.

However, Stambersky singled, and the Warriors hit Doll with a pitch. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch, and Chandler plated both with a two-run single to increase Platte County’s lead to 14-0. Stambersky and Chandler both went 3-for-3 with a walk.

Chandler represented the potential winning run, but Wassmann struck out to leave him stranded at first. Carter worked around the error and needed just 57 pitches, 45 of them strikes, to record 15 outs and send the Pirates back to the District 8 title game for the first time since beating Smithville on the way to the 2022 state title.

“It’s all energy,” Wassmann said. “As you see by the score of this game, we didn’t take a pitch off, which everybody was up constantly. I’d say that’s the biggest result if we want to get back to that level.”

Platte County 13, Van Horn 0, 5 innings

Chandler went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs in the first round matchup Wednesday at Creekside Baseball Park.

Platte County finished with nine hits, but Van Horn pitching also hit five batters and walked three. The Falcons committed nine errors, fueling four-run innings in the first and second in addition to a five-run fourth.

Carter started and threw two perfect innings, striking out two.

Marriott walked one in three innings of relief to finish off the no-hitter. He added five strikeouts, allowing Platte County to potentially use the top three pitchers against Smithville the next day.

McLaughlin’s RBI triple increased Platte County’s lead to 10-0 in the bottom of the fourth, and McCool capped the five-run rally with a run-scoring double. Stearns added a leadoff double in the second.

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