The scene said it all last night in the championship game in the Class 4 District 8 Tournament in Fulton.
After completing a 7-0 win over the Kirksville Tigers in the championship game, the Pirates celebrated somewhat near home plate on winning the title. But the thing that impressed head coach Tim Edwards more about winning the title is that the players celebrated with the expectation of bigger and better things.
Now the Pirates, 15-8 on the season, will move on to the sectional round of the state playoffs on Tuesday, May 21 against Duchesne, 12-10, in St. Charles.
Edwards said he loves where this team is headed. “I am just really proud of the boys,” Edwards said. “I thought we would score but I thought it was going to be more like a 5-3 ballgame or something like that. This was our third meeting against Kirksville but I feel like we are hitting the ball better now and playing better defensively. We respect their program because they have a great program and coach Jackson does it the right way.”
While out-hitting Kirksville in the game 11-5, the Pirates also played a little small ball last night while moving runners over at every opportunity.
Senior pitcher Caleb Hein also picked up his fourth win of the season in six starts by limiting Kirksville to just four hits in five innings. He also walked two and struck out two. Of course if that wasn’t already good enough, Edwards also used sophomore Jordan Copeland in a mop up role and the lefty responded by giving up just one hit in two innings with one strikeout.
Edwards said Hein pitched a great ballgame. “He wanted to finish,” Edwards said of Hein. “I was going to pull him after the fifth but he begged me to stay in. He talked me into it and I told him if anybody reached than he was going to get pulled but he gave it his all and he did a great job. He put us in line to win a district championship and then Jordan came in and pitched to contact, kept the ball down and did an outstanding job, too.”
As for the small ball, Edwards said when you get to playoff baseball you have to make sure that you scrap for every run. In the game last night against Kirksville, Edwards said he thought it was going to be a 1 or 2 run ballgame so he wanted to make sure to put some pressure on Kirksville and try to scratch out every run they could.
Mission accomplished. After a scoreless first inning, the Pirates came out and used a little small ball in the second when Keaton Barnes sacrificed Zach Nixon over to second. Nixon later scored when Ethan Sander ripped a single to right to make it 1-0.
Page 2 of 3 - Of course the Pirates weren’t don’t yet. After stranding a Kirksville runner on second in the bottom-half of the second, Boonville came back and plated three more runs in the third after four straight hits, which all started with a bloop single to right by Kelsey Callaway. Meanwhile, after back-to-back bunt singles by Jacob Francis and Austin Hulbert, senior Jalen Poindexter delivered his first of two doubles in the game with a blast over the left fielders head to score two runs to extend the lead to 3-0.
It gets better, though. After walking Nixon to load the bases, Kirksville pitcher Kolton Magers did the one thing he could ill-afford to do by hitting Barnes with a pitch to bring in a run to make it 4-0.
The Pirates caught a few breaks after that, especially in the sixth. While sending eight batters to the plate in the inning, Boonville also put up three runs on RBI-singles each by Austin Hulbert and Nixon to push the lead to 6-0. On the seventh run, the Pirates got a little lucky when Callaway scored after being hit with the ball in the back after getting caught in a rundown between third and home.
Edwards said his team was pretty fortunate on that play. “One of our guys in the dugout said that was pretty stupid but it worked out,” Edwards said. “Kelsey was just trying to be aggressive. The ball was in the dirt and he thought it was going to get by the catcher so he was getting a jump like he should but he was just a little too aggressive. He was was safe so that is great.”
Eleven hits will also get the job done most of the time. With seven different players collecting hits in the game, nobody had a bigger night than Poindexter, who was 2-for-3 with two doubles and three RBIs.
Austin Hulbert was 2-for-4 with two singles, one RBI and two runs scored. Kelsey Callaway also had two hits, both of which were singles, and scored two runs. Zach Nixon had two singles and scored once while Ethan Sander added a single and one RBI, Jacob Francis with one single and one run scored, Dallas Franklin also with one single and Keaton Barnes with one RBI.
Nixon said against Kirksville the team played an error-free game and it was huge scoring first. “We left a few guys stranded on base but overall we capitalized well,” Nixon said. “Caleb also pitched an amazing game. Winning districts is awesome and we can enjoy it for a few days at least.”
For Kirksville, Luke Collop went 2-for-3 with a single and a double.
Jordan Magers took the loss on the mound for Kirksville by giving up four runs, three earned, on six hits while striking out two.
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