Boonville senior Jalen Poindexter gave plenty of credit for his recent hitting binge in the postseason.
With two doubles last Wednesday in the championship in the district tournament against Kirksville, Poindexter came back Tuesday night in a Class 4 Sectional game against Duchesne in St. Charles by going 3-for-4 with a single, double, home run and three RBIs to power the Pirates past the Pioneers 7-3.
Boonville, now 16-8 on the season, will host St. Mary’s of St. Louis in the quarterfinal round of the state tournament on Thursday, May 23 at Twillman field in Harley park starting at 5 p.m.
The Pirates, winners of eight in a row and nine out of their last 11 games, finished the game against Duchesne with 10 hits.
As for Poindexter, the senior catcher couldn’t be peaking any better. While on a 12-22 binge in his last-six games, Poindexter also has four doubles, one home run and nine RBIs to raise his average from .388 to .416.
Boonville Pirates skipper Tim Edwards said the coaching staff has been working all season on getting Jalen to take his swing down a notch. “When he does that this is the result today,” Edwards said. “He is not over swinging and he hits the ball hard with a nice fluid swing and that’s what he has to continue with.
“I thought the whole team came out and hit the ball well like we needed to and put some hits together in a couple of innings to score some runs, and then Caleb (Hein) pitched well again. He got ground balls and fly balls and they didn’t really hit him hard much and then Ethan (Sander) came in and slammed the door. This was a different atmosphere against Duchesne than it was against Kirksville, but our guys worked through that and I thought they performed well.”
Senior Caleb Hein also did his part Tuesday night by laboring through five innings after pitching five in the title game against Kirksville. Like Poindexter, Hein has been on a role as of lately while improving to 5-2 on the season. Winners of his last-four games, Hein also dropped his ERA to 2.45. In the game against Duchesne, Hein surrendered three runs, only one of which was earned, on five hits and one walk while striking out three batters. Ethan Sander, meanwhile, came in and pitched two innings in relief and struck out two batters.
Alex Grupas took the loss for the Pioneers, who closed out the season at 12-11 overall. While scattering six runs, two earned, over seven innings, Grupas also gave up 10 hits and walked two batters while striking out seven.
It also didn’t take long for the Pirates to jump on Grupas, as they plated one run in the top-half of the first when Poindexter hit a two-out double to left and scored two batters later on a RBI-single to right center by Keaton Barnes.
Page 2 of 3 - Meanwhile, after Duchesne struck for one run in the bottom-half of the second to tie the game at 1-all on two hits and one error, Boonville came back with two again in the third on a one-out single to center by Poindexter and a big two-RBI single to right center by Zach Nixon to make it 3-1.
Duchesne added another run in the bottom-half of the third to cut the lead to 3-2.
However, it was pretty much all Boonville after that with two in the fourth on two hits and one walk to extend the lead to 5-2.
The Pirates also took advantage of what Duchesne gave them in the fourth. With two outs in the inning, senior Kelsey Callaway looped a single to right. However, on the throw to the infield, Alec Viertel came across to score when the ball scooted by the third baseman. Callaway then raced to third with nobody covering the bag and later scored on a bloop single to left by Jacob Francis.
Duchesne again put up one run after a big inning by the Pirates in the fifth to make it 5-3.
However, after a scoreless sixth inning, Poindexter drove a Grupas pitch deep and over the wall in left for a two-run shot to push the lead to 7-3.
Sander then came in and shut the door on the Pioneers in the sixth and seventh to record the save.
Edwards said he never felt comfortable until the last out. “Obviously the home run there by Jalen in the top of the seventh gave us a little bit of breathing room to get 7-3, so that was huge because I did not feel comfortable at all at 5-3,” Edwards said. “I also thought we gave up that third run and that was kind of irritating because they got a ground ball and then tagged up on a fly ball to left but we have to eliminate a couple of mistakes but I like the way we are playing right now.”
Edwards also has to like the hitting of juniors Jacob Francis and Keaton Barnes, who were both 2-for-4 with two singles and two RBIs. Zach Nixon was 1-for-4 with one single and one RBI while Alec Viertel and Kelsey Callaway each had a RBI-single. John Reese also scored two runs while Austin Hulbert had one RBI.
For Duchesne, Nate Friedel went 2-for-3 with two singles, one RBI and one run scored.
Poindexter, who was out of breath from all the interviews after the game, said it means a lot from coming back and going to the quarterfinal his sophomore year. “Just to get back there means a lot,” Poindexter said. “Things are going to change. It’s going to be different, we are going to be in it and we are going to play hard. As for the home run, I thought it was a pop up so I was jogging a little bit. I didn’t think it was out and I thought he was going to catch it. But honestly, it means a lot to play at home in the quarterfinals because I know a ton of people will come out and we will have a lot of support.”
Page 3 of 3 - Edwards agreed by saying playing at home is huge.
“We have been here a few times in the last six years,” Edwards said. “I think this is the fourth quarterfinal appearance in the last six years. We were able to get one win there and came up short a couple of times, but this team is hungry. I am glad to see this team here in the quarterfinals and we want to keep it going from here.”