MARSHALL, Mo. — The Northwest All-Stars went into this weekend's Senior State Tournament with a clear goal.
“We really want it,” Northeast Nodaway sophomore Grant McIntyre said. “For all the years of the kids playing All-Stars here, I don’t think anyone has ever won state. It is the last year for some people and we just want to get it done.”
The All-Stars accomplished that goal with 3-straight lop-sided wins. It began in Friday's first-round game when Platte Valley junior Memphis Bliley had the look to match his dominating stuff.
Baseball is full of its iconic looks and one of the most recognizable fictional characters in baseball pop culture is Ricky ‘Wild Thing’ Vaughn. Charlie Sheen’s ‘Major League’ character would have to tip his cap to the performance that Bliley turned in the first round of the state tournament on Friday in Marshall.
Bliley had everything but Vaughn’s cutoff sleeves on Friday night, but he rocked the No. 99 on his back to go with his black glasses and power fastball. Bliley pitched no-hit three innings with nine strikeouts and one hit-by-pitch.
“Everything (was working),” Bliley said. “I just threw the ball really well. That’s about it.”
The Northwest All-Stars coaching staff wanted to keep Bliley under 45 pitches so he’d be available for Sunday’s state championship game. He finished with 43 in his three innings of the 19-2 victory in four innings over Hillsboro’s All-Stars.
“He was just doing his thing tonight,” Northwest catcher Grant McIntyre said. “I didn’t really have to do much — just sit back there and keep the ball in front of me. Porky (the team’s nickname for Bliley) was just getting them out and they weren’t even touching it.”
Bliley stuck out the first eight batters and in that time Hillsboro only managed two foul balls against the Platte Valley junior. He had a 0-2 count against the No. 9 hitter in the Hillsboro order when he came inside with a pitch and hit him. He needed just three pitches to strike out the leadoff hitter and get out of the inning.
“We were all pumped up and just ready to go,” Bliley said.
While Bliley was dominating on the mound, the Northwest offense was putting on a show of its own. After a scoreless first frame, Max Heintz got the team on the board with a 2-run single in the second. Heintz finished the game 3-for-4 with three RBI and three runs scored.
“Everybody is just hitting the ball and seeing the ball really well and we are just doing what we can to get on base,” McIntyre said.
Northwest added two more runs in the second and 12 runs in the third. They scored three more in the fourth for a 19-0 lead. Kaleb Jestus and Heintz combined to close out the final inning and save the rest of the pitching staff so every pitcher is available for the rest of the weekend.
While Joplin’s All-Stars were able to push Northwest to play a full 7-inning game, the end result on Saturday was even more lop-sided with Northwest winning 20-0.
Offensively, Adam Patton turned in a 4-for-4 day at the plate with a double.
Dylan McIntyre and Max Heintz each had three hits.
McIntyre was the winning pitcher going 5 2/3 innings and just allowing three hits. He had seven strikeouts.
Patton got the last four outs in order to send the team into the finals.
Bliley took the ball again in the championship and pitched a complete-game 3-hitter for the win. He allowed no earned runs in a 11-3 victory over the Joplin All-Stars where he struck out 12 and walked just one.
At the plate, Bliley and Dylan McIntyre each had three hits while Patton and Coy Sobotka each had two.
Six other Northwest All-Stars recorded hits including a Kaleb Jestus triple and Grant McIntyre double.
The Northwest season ends with a state title as the regional tournament is cancelled this year.