After finishing off the Harrisonville Wildcats 6-4 last night in a Class 4 Sectional game at Twillman field in Harley park, Boonville Pirates baseball coach Fred Smith made the comment that his team still has three more to go.
The first of those three will come Thursday night as the Boonville Pirates, 18-4 on the season, host the Smithville Warriors, 20-7, in the quarterfinal round of the state tournament Thursday night at Twillman field in Harley park starting at 5 p.m.
“That’s our goal three more to go,” Smith said. “Again, I thought the pitchers did well enough to win, I still don’t like walks and I still don’t like hit batters but that is part of the game. They kept us in it. I thought we hit the ball when we needed to but I really thought we would score 8-10 runs with the wind blowing out at home but give their pitcher some credit, and they battled us. We would get a couple of runs, they would answer, we would score and then they would answer back. Survive and advance.”
After leading the Odessa Bulldogs from the first inning on last week in the championship in the district tournament, the Pirates once again took the early lead last night against Harrisonville by putting up two runs in the first on a RBI-double to center by Ryan Brown and a RBI-single to right center by Dalton Bealmer.
Boonville also sent seven batters to the plate in the inning to lead Harrisonville 2-0.
But from that point on in the ballgame the Pirates would find themselves in a battle as Harrisonville rallied back with two runs in the top-half of the fourth on one hit, one walk and a two-run error. While the Wildcats tied the game at 2-all, Boonville could have easily been out of the inning. However, a two-run error on a ground ball to short put Harrisonville back in the game.
The Wildcats then took their first lead of the ballgame in the top-half of the fifth when Jake Cooper hit a lead-off home run to left to make it 3-2.
Smith said he wasn’t in a panic mode because he still knew the Pirates had three at-bats.
“When they came off the field I got the guys together and said we have three at-bats,” Smith said. “One at a time, let’s see what kind of baserunner we get and we will do something from there. Hulbert got on and I was debating whether to bunt or not and I said let’s get in the count and we will probably hit and run again and then boom, Kole takes it yard. He is seeing the ball well just like Dalton, Jady and Ethan. We are starting to get hot at the right time ideally.
“We had played them earlier in the year and beat them, granted its baseball and anything can happen but we felt like we had more horses in the stables. We had more firepower than they did so it was a matter of getting a break and doing what we needed to do.”
As it turned out, the Pirates took Smith’s speech to heart by rallying back with two runs in the bottom-half of the fifth to go up 4-3. Although the Wildcats looked to be in for another good inning after getting Bryce Fuemmeler to hit into a ground out, the Pirates would make Harrisonville pay dearly after giving up a single to left to Hulbert. Kole Ficken then squared one up for a two-run home run to left to make it 4-3.
The Pirates never trailed after that while adding two more runs in the sixth on two hits, two walks and an error to extend the lead to 6-3.
Of course the Wildcats had as much to do with the inning as Boonville after giving up a lead-off walk to Ethan Sander and  an error to put runners on first and third. Then, after Riley Lang grounded out to the first baseman to bring in a run, Fuemmeler came back two batters later with a RBI-single past third to push the lead to 6-3.
The Wildcats didn’t go down without a fight, though. In the top-half of the seventh, Harrisonville plated another run on the solo home run to right by Ben Teter.
As for the pitching in the game for Boonville, sophomore Nick Zeitlow picked up his second win of the season in relief of starter Jordan Copeland. Copeland pitched the first-four innings and struck out seven batters while giving up two runs on two hits and two walks. Zeitlow, meanwhile, pitched three innings in relief and allowed two runs on three hits while striking out four.
For Harrisonville, Jake Cooper took the loss on the mound while pitching three innings in relief of starter Jake Hofer. Hofer pitched the first-three innings and gave up two runs on two hits and four walks while striking out two. Cooper then came in and pitched three innings in relief and allowed four runs on five hits and two walks while striking out three.
Boonville also out-hit Harrisonville 7-5, with Austin Hulbert going 2-for-2 with two singles. Kole Ficken was 1-for-2 with a home run and two RBIs while Ryan Brown added a double, Dalton Bealmer and Bryce Fuemmeler each with a RBI-single, Ethan Sander with one single and Riley Lang with one RBI.
For Harrisonville, Jake Cooper went 2-for-4 with a single, home run and one RBI.
Ben Teter finished the game with a home run and one RBI while Brandon Eickhorst doubled and Morgan Selemaea singled.
Note: The winner of Thursday’s quarterfinal game will advance to the Final Four at T. R. Hughes ballpark in O’Fallon, Missouri on Thursday, June 4th.