Nick Zeitlow tosses a one-hit shutout for Boonville, who improves to 18-4 overall
Although he wouldn’t come out and say it out loud, Boonville Pirates baseball coach Fred Smith wanted to avenge last year’s loss against Father Tolton in a big way Tuesday night during Senior-Parents Night at Twillman Field in Harley park.
With the district tournament starting on Saturday in Marshall, Smith knew a win over the Blazers could go a long way in preparing his team for a postseason run.
But little did he know the Pirates would avenge the loss and then some by blanking Father Tolton 12-0 in only five innings.
“The whole evening was fantastic,” Smith said. “We had great weather and the park looked wonderful as always. It was just a good atmosphere with Senior Night so there was a buzz there, which is kind of tough because the sentimental side of it is that you are proud of them and you want to put a good team on the field, but then the realization is hitting that this could be their last home game possibly and that kind of thing.
“Obviously Nick (Zeitlow) threw a gem with a one hitter and one walk. We felt after last year we had to right the ship sort of speak. Father Tolton is a young team and they are solid and will only get better, so the next year or two there will be some pretty good battles to come. But in my book this is the best Senior Night we’ve had thus far. It was just a great evening.”
Of course the Pirates (18-4) will need that same kind of effort next week in districts. But for now, Boonville had every facet of the game working against Father Tolton, with Zeitlow tossing a one-hit shutout for his ninth straight win.
As for the offense, the Pirates were nowhere near close to the 18 hits last Friday against Kirksville but still managed eight hits against Tolton with six of the nine starters collecting at least one hit in the game.
Of course nobody was better than senior Weston Fahrenbrink, who finished the game 2-for-3 with a double, home run and four RBIs.
Ben Horst also had two hits with a single, double and four runs batted in while Kole Ficken added a double and two RBIs. Blake Barnes also doubled in the game while Dylan Watson singled and drove in one run. Zach Weber also singled in three at-bats.
Smith said the last two games the team has hit the ball well.
“Last week we had 18 hits against Kirksville and then against Father Tolton we had to make some adjustments to their pitching but we hit some balls to the gap and Weston went yard again,” Smith said. “I was pretty pleased with our offense. We’ve been kind of streaky, but the weather has warmed up and our bats have heated up. We get a couple of guys going and everybody wants to hit and be a part of that. I really thought the Kirksville game was about as a complete game as we have played all season. I don’t think we have peaked offensively yet. I still think there is some room there but setting at 18-4 I am getting a little nitpicky there. It’s been a wonderful season.”
With all 12 runs coming in four innings, the Pirates could have easily put up 15 or more against the Blazer. But with it being Senior Night, Smith started all seven seniors for what could possibly be their last home game.
Needless to say, Boonville had little fall off while pushing across two runs in the first on back-to-back doubles by Blake Barnes and Kole Ficken and a RBI-single to center by Ben Horst.
The Pirates were just getting started, though.
With Zeitlow retiring the side in the first-three innings, Boonville all but sealed the victory in the bottom-half of the second by exploding for six runs on three hits, one walk and one error to extend the lead to 8-0.
A total of 10 batters also came to the plate in the inning for the Pirates, who scored one run on a base-loaded walk, one on a wild pitch and one on an error. Fahrenbrink also drove in two runs with a double to left center.
Father Tolton, meanwhile, broke up Zeitlow’s no hitter with a single to right by Stephen Wilson in the fourth. Zeitlow also walked one batter in the fourth but then came back and struck out the next-two batters to end the inning.
The Pirates also plated four more runs in its half of the fourth, which included a RBI double to center by Horst and a two-run home run to left by Fahrenbrink. Boonville also scored one run on an overthrow to third during the double by Horst.
Drew Timmerman took the loss on the mound for Father Tolton by giving up three runs on four hits while striking out two batters in 1 1/3 innings.
As for the only hit in the game by the Blazers, Wilson went 1-for-2 with one single.
With the regular season now complete, Smith said the Pirates will face either Moberly or Marshall in the semifinal round on Monday.
“Again, it’s one you can’t take for granted,” Smith said. “We beat both those clubs twice. My plan is to start Connor Barnes on Monday against one of those teams and then my goal is to have the big dogs in the tank. Jared Viertel is in relief on Monday if need be and then we have Zeitlow in the championship game and I would like to think the 2-3 seed will have to burn their top pitching, at least two of them, to get to us on Wednesday. I feel like we are in pretty good shape pitching-wise. Offensively, we feel like we can out-hit any team that’s in the district but if the weather neutralizes that than we have to rely on our pitching and defense, which has certainly carried us all year long.”
In the JV game, Boonville defeated Father Tolton 16-5 in four innings.
The Pirates, who finished the season undefeated in 17 games, actually trailed Father Tolton 5-1 after 2 1/2 before rallying back with 13 runs in the third and two again in the fourth.
Boonville JV coach Adam Arnette said the Pirates were extremely patient at the plate and the stats show it.
“We had 11 walks and only one strikeout,” Arnette said, “and seven different guys contributed one hit. Trae Williams also had a great job in relief. Kellen Barnes struggled finding his release point in the first inning and Trae really stepped up and filled up the strike zone. This was our last game and a great way to end the year. We struggled at first and fell behind, but the guys never gave up and came from behind for the win. It was a great season for a great group of guys.”
In 3 2/3 innings in relief of starter Kellen Barnes, Williams gave up three runs on two hits and four walks while striking out six batters. Cooper O’Sullivan, meanwhile, took the loss for Father Tolton in relief by giving up five runs on one hit and four walks in 1/3 inning.
As for the hitting in the game for Boonville, Samuel Wiser went 1-for-2 with a home run and three RBIs. Williams doubled and drove in two runs while Dylan Barnthouse added a single and three RBIs, Jaylen Butner with one single and two RBIs, Connor Barnes, Tyler Schuster and Clayton Gochenour each with one single and one RBI, Kellen Brownfield with two RBIs and Carson Campbell with one RBI.
For Father Tolton, Drake Kiesling and O’Sullivan each had one single.