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By David Sharp
Third seeded Knox County and second seeded La Plata (15-4) squared off in a classic pitcher’s duel in the May 16, 2022 championship semifinal round of Class 1, District 13 baseball at North Shelby.
La Plata pitcher Tanner Pipes tossed a brilliant game. Pipes did not allow a hit until Rylan Roberts singled leading off the top of the seventh inning. Braxton McCurren followed with a walk.
Lewis and Clark Conference Most Outstanding Player Robert Dooley launched a three run homer over the right center field fence for the only runs scored in a 3-0 Knox County victory.
Sixth ranked La Plata loaded the bases in the first inning. Drew Wheeler touched Eagle starter Rylan Roberts for a one out single. Tanner Pipes followed with a base hit. Roberts struck out the next batter.
Kaden Safley drew a two out walk, filling the bases with Bulldogs. Rylan Roberts struck out the next batter, leaving the bases loaded in a scoreless first inning.
Knox County (13-4, ranked tenth in Missouri Class 1) was unable to put a man on base until Reice Miller drew a one out error in the top of the sixth inning. Tanner Pipes responded to losing his bid for a perfect game by striking out the next two batters with no scoring allowed.
Braxton McCurren made a great fielding play at first base, robbing Logan Halstead of a possible extra base hit for the second out of the fifth inning. Tanner Pipes walked in the La Plata sixth inning.
The game headed to the seventh inning scoreless. Tanner Pipes responded to losing his no hit bid, his shutout and allowing the first runs of the game by tipping his hat to Robert Dooley as he rounded third base after Dooley hit the game winning three run home run.
“We were doing anything we could just to get on base tonight,” Knox County coach David Cameron said. “Tanner Pipes is one of the best, if not the best pitchers in Northeast Missouri. What an outstanding performance by him.”
“We tried to get a couple of runners on base and hope to get a big hit,” Coach Cameron said. “That’s what Robert Dooley did. That was a pretty deep ball there. Both Rylan (Roberts) and Blake (Parrish) have been our 1A and 1B pitchers all year long.”
“We expect them to be good every time they are on the mound. The defense was really good behind Rylan tonight. Kellen Parrish made some pretty good plays at third. Braxton McCurren saved a couple of bad throws at first base. He has all year. He is the best first baseman in this district and in our conference for sure.”
Tanner Pipes struck out the next two batters. Kellen Parrish grounded out to short ending the Knox County seventh inning with the Eagles leading by a three run margin.
Kaden Safley walked leading off the Bulldog seventh inning. Tucker Beautte followed with another walk. The tying run stepped to the plate in the person of Logan Arbuckle.
Knox County brought Blake Parrish in to pitch. Rylan Roberts pitched six innings plus. Roberts struck out 11 batters with four walks, two walks and no runs allowed.
Blake Parrish induced a ground ball for the first out. Blake Parrish struck out the next two batters, leaving leadoff batter Reese Mesecher in the on deck circle.
Knox County scored three runs on two hits. Blake Parrish struck out two batters in one ining pitched with no hits or runs allowed for the save.
La Plata was blanked on two hits. Tanner Pipes pitched the seven inning distance for La Plata. Pipes struck out 13 batters with one walk on two hits. All three KCHS runs were earned. La Plata did not record a hit after the first inning.
“It’s amazing that you can have a pitcher throw a 74 pitch complete game with 13 strikeouts and take a loss,” La Plata coach Josh Woodward said. “That was good a pitching matchup as you are going to see in the post season in Class 1. We had (Rylan) Roberts on the ropes in the first inning.”
“We ended up with the bases loaded and he worked out of it,” Josh Woodward said. “He just got in a groove and just ate us up for the next six innings. It’s one of those games that you hate to see either team lose.”
“That was a classic game. Sometimes you just get beat,” Coach Woodward said. “We laid it all out there and they got one better swing than us today. That is the kind of thing you expect from a kid like Tanner Pipes,” Josh Woodward said of the show of sportsmanship after the game winning home run by Robert Dooley.
“Tanner Pipes is a class act,” Woodward said. “His older brother Trevor was the same. They were both great players for us. They couldn’t have been better kids and better teammates. We have a dugout full of those guys.”
Knox County lost to North Shelby (12-3) in the district championship game.