Pirates will play winner of Lutheran South-Winfield in sectionals on Tuesday, May 23rd
What Boonville Pirates baseball coach Fred Smith expected to happen on Monday in the semifinal round of the district tournament came two days later as the Pirates pounded out 15 runs on 15 hits in a 15-9 win over Kirksville for the Class 4 District 8 title.
While both teams accounted for 24 runs on 33 hits, Boonville and Kirksville also combined for four home runs and a total of 11 extra base hits in the ballgame.
The 15 hits coupled with great pitching by Nick Zeitlow and Jared Viertel and great defense, is the reason the Pirates are moving on to the sectional round of the state playoffs on Tuesday, May 23rd. Boonville, 20-4 on the season, will play the winner of Lutheran South/Winfield on Tuesday starting at 4 p.m.
While the district title was the third straight for the Pirates, Smith said this is kind of what he expected with the wind.
“Both teams hit the ball well of course,” Smith said. “With the wind blowing out I knew that anything could happen but we came to play. I knew we were going to score some runs but I also knew Kirksville was going to put up some runs. However I thought our kids competed and battled and stayed positive all day.”
While the hitting for both teams was unpredictable due to the wind, the pitching was also a virtual flip of the coin as the pitchers battled the tough conditions.
Senior Nick Zeitlow, who is normally spot on with his fastball, struggled a little on Wednesday by giving up seven runs on 14 hits in five innings. But even then Zeitlow was good enough to pick up his 10th win of the season, which ties the record for most wins in a season.
Junior Jared Viertel also had his ups and downs through two innings by giving up two runs on four hits and one walk while striking out three batters.
“It was uncharacteristic of our pitching,” Smith said. “You saw some balls that Nick usually gets ground balls and they hit it in the air today and it carried or went somewhere in the gap or found a spot. But we filled the zone and didn’t give them too many extra things and made some good defensive plays when we needed to.”
For the record, the Pirates had just one miscue on the day while Kirksville was spotless in the field.
Of course the Tigers also played well enough to win the game. Aside from leaving 10 runners on base, Kirksville actually out-hit Boonville 18-15 and had seven players with multiple hits. As for the Pirates, they stranded six runners and had only four players with multiple hits although eight of the nine starters had at least one hit in the game.
Boonville also scored in every inning but the fifth while tallying two or more runs in five out of the six innings of play.
The Pirates also trailed only once in the ballgame as Kirksville opened the first with a lead off solo home run to right center by Michael Chrisman.
It was pretty much all over after that as Boonville rallied back with two runs in its half of the inning on a two-RBI single to left center by Weston Fahrenbrink.
Boonville would add two more runs in the second on a two-RBI triple to right-center by Kole Ficken. Then, after Kirksville cut the lead back to one in the top-half of the third to make it 4-3, the Pirates came back and exploded for six runs in its half of the inning on six hits to extend the lead to 10-3.
While sending a total of 10 batters to the plate in the inning, Fahrenbrink provided a huge spark with a mammoth two-run shot to left center that went over the scoreboard and hit the Kirksville bus. Boonville also had three straight hits in the frame, which produced runs.
The game was far from being over, though. Kirksville proved that in the fourth by pushing across four more runs on five straight hits to cut the lead to three at 10-7. Boonville’s defense then came to the forefront when Colton Gillespie hit in a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat.
The Tigers never got any closer as Boonville tacked on three more runs in the bottom-half of the fourth on a ground ball to short for an RBI by Makiah Waibel and a two-RBI single to center by Connor Barnes to make it 13-7. Then, after a rare scoreless inning by both teams in the fifth, Boonville plated two more runs in the sixth on a two-run shot to center by Avery Reardon to extend the lead to 15-7.
Kirksville added two runs in the seventh on a lead-off home run to right by Charlie Stuart and two singles to complete the scoring in the game.
Kole Ficken had a three-hit night for the Pirates with a single, double, triple and three runs batted in.
Weston Fahrenbrink was 2-for-3 with a home run and four RBIs while Connor Bares added two singles and three RBIs, Riley Lang also with two singles, Avery Reardon with a home run and two RBIs, Ben Horst and Ryan Witting each with one double and Ethan Waibel, Dylan Watson and Makiah Waibel each with one single and one RBI.
For Kirksville, Michael Chrisman, Blake Lewis, Colton Gillespie and Nathan Pigg each had three hits while Nolan Dempsey, Tanner Lain and Charlie Stuart added two hits each.
Gillespie also took the loss for Kirksville by giving up eight runs on eight hits and two walks in 2 1/3 innings.