Grain Valley tops Panthers in battle of ranked teams

Bill Althaus
The Examiner

Although they had lost their last two games in the Northland Tournament, Grain Valley baseball coach Brian Driskell was not concerned when Park Hill South took an early 2-0 lead Thursday.

South, ranked No. 7 in Class 6, scored solo runs in the top of the first and third innings before the Eagles’ offense warmed up with a five-run third inning that paved the way to a 6-2 victory

The win featured all the elements of why Grain Valley, ranked No. 7 in Class 5, is enjoying a successful 10-6 season.

Eagles starter Jack Beeding allowed two runs in four innings and relief ace Riley Bown lowered his already microscopic ERA of 0.30 by pitching three scoreless innings of two-hit ball.

The Eagles used a couple of perfectly executed hit-and-run plays to keep innings alive and Bown helped his own cause with two doubles and two RBIs.

"We sure played better tonight than we did our previous two games," Driskell said, referring to back-to-back losses to St. Pius X and Park Hill. "All we've done is play, and we haven't played very well, so it was good to see hitting, pitching and defense all contribute to this win.

"It looks like we're going to get rained out Friday, so we'll see what happens. Then we'll get some practice in next week."

Left fielder Cole Keller agreed with his coach, quipping, "I haven't had any batting practice in a week or so. And if you saw my swing lately you'd know I need some batting practice."

Bown certainly doesn't need any help in the cage as he doubled in the second inning and was the catalyst in the five-run third inning with the two-run double.

"We haven't played well this week," Bown said, "but there was no panic when we were down early. It just took a while for our bats to catch up with their pitching. We can really hit the ball, and we proved it in the third inning.”

Cole Arndorfer opened the third with a single, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. He scored on Parker Bosserman's RBI single.

Keller was intentionally walked and Kaden Jeffries, who had three hits, collected an RBI on a single. Alex Snyder followed with an RBI single and Bown added two more runs with his double.

"That was a nice inning," Driskell said. "It's really nice to see the guys swing the bats like that after the past couple of games."

The Panthers loaded the bases with one out in the top of the seventh but Bown coaxed Luke Fricker to hit into a game-ending double play.