Carlton Perkins' key plays help Lee's Summit North rally past Blue Springs South
The smile on the face of Lee's Summit North senior Carlton Perkins said it all.
And the strong-armed left fielder had a good reason to be beaming from ear to ear as he drove in the first and last runs of a dramatic 6-5 come-from-behind Suburban Big Eight Conference victory over visiting Blue Springs South.
He also made a game-changing throw to cut down a South runner at the plate.
"I'd say Carlton came to play today – but he comes to play every day," North coach Mike Westacott said after his 7-10 and 3-4 Broncos stunned the Jaguars. "I questioned that throw home because they had a guy running and we wanted to keep him at second base.
"Carlton was throwing into a strong (35 mph plus) wind and it didn't matter. The ball arrived way before their runner and it was an easy out at home. Needless to say, we haven't had much success against South this year and this is one to remember, one to savor, because Ben’s (Baier) kids play hard and know how to play the game.”
Before he picked up a rake to manicure North's natural grass infield, Perkins talked about his big game.
"In my heart I knew I could throw out the runner going home, even if I was throwing into that wind," Perkins said. "I think everyone was surprised when I threw home, but I thought I had a good chance of getting him."
When asked his two big RBIs the smile grew even wider.
"They scored in the top of the first and it was nice to get two runs in the bottom of the inning and I was so happy to knock one in," he said, "but the big RBI came in the bottom of the seventh."
South's Trenton Roehler, who helped his own cause with a single and RBI double, allowed just three runs in six innings before he was lifted because of his pitch count (92 pitches on a 95-pitch limit).
Ethan Watson came in with a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning and the Broncos promptly scored three runs to win the game.
Seth Simpson walked and leadoff hitter Simon Murray reached on an infield error. Devin Blayney singled to make it 5-4 and Jake Rice singled to load the bases.
Carter Bradford tied it with a bases-loaded walk and everyone in the ballpark knew that Perkins was going to lay down a squeeze bunt.
"We knew it," Baier said, "and we had it played perfectly."
But Watson fielded the ball and threw wide of home plate as Blayney scored the winning run.
"I talked to Coach Westacot and told him I could get the bunt down," said Perkins, one of the fastest players on North. "I didn't get down that good of a bunt. It got the run home and that's all that matters."
Jacob Rehkow, Jordan Austin and Keaton Latlip had RBIs for the 11-9, 5-3 Jaguars (11-9, 5-3).
"Roehler goes out and pitches his butt off, and we let it get away," coach Ben Baier said as his players packed their gear and headed for the bus. "No one is going to feel sorry for us. We can either settle for a game like this or go out and play our butts off and get back on track."
Murray finished with two hits and scored two runs and Blayney added three singles, an RBI and a run scored for the Broncos.