The Mexico Bulldogs were hoping that the third time was a charm Tuesday night in the semifinal round of the Class 4 District 8 Tournament in Boonville.
Having been swept by the Boonville Pirates during the regular season, the Bulldogs were ready to turn the page after beating Moberly 21-9 in the opening round last Saturday.
However the No. 1 seeded Boonville Pirates wouldn’t have anything to do with a possible upset by exploding for seven runs in the fourth inning en route to a 11-0 victory.
Boonville, 21-1 on the season, will play Kirksville tonight for the title starting at 5 p.m. The Tigers beat Marshall 13-3 in the second semifinal game on Tuesday.
Boonville Pirates baseball coach Fred Smith said beating a team three times is tough.
“On paper it looks like it should be done but nobody is reading it this time of the year,” Smith said. “It is tough. Mentally our kids know they are better in theory but you still have to go out and play the game. I thought we were lackluster the first-two innings emotionally and defensively and then we work up and got in the ballgame and got after it.”
Junior pitcher Connor Barnes also got after it by recording his fifth win of the season in six ballgames. Aside from giving up two seeing-eye singles in the first, Barnes was spot on for the rest of the game while retiring 13 straight at one point before giving up a single up the middle in the fifth.
Barnes also struck out seven batters to up his total for the season to 64.
“Another gem for Connor,” Smith said. “Two of their three hits were infield singles around the second base bag but he basically commanded everything and shut them down. We could have had a very different ballgame if they score one or two runs in the first, but from that point on he got ahead of the hitters and filled the zone and just dominated.”
Of course Barnes also had a few tense moments in the first after giving up two infield singles.  But after that, the junior hurler settled down and relied on his hitting and defense to finish the job, which they did with one in the second on two walks, a double to left center by Avery Reardon and a overthrow to first on the fielder’s choice by Carson Campbell.
The Pirates never trailed after that while adding three more runs in the third on three hits, which included a two-run home run to left by Kole Ficken, a double to left center by Ben Horst and a fly out to right by Trae Williams to extend the lead to 4-0.
The home run was Ficken’s sixth of the season. However it wasn’t his last hit of the game.
After another 1-2-3 inning in the fourth by Mexico, the Pirates all but sealed the victory in the bottom-half of the inning by exploding for seven runs on four hits and six walks to make it 11-0.
With a total of 13 batters coming to the plate in the inning, Campbell and Ethan Waibel led off with back to back singles.  Then, after a walk, Ficken hit his team-leading 11th double of the season to make it 6-0. Two batters later, Horst brought in a run on a fielder’s choice to third, followed by a two-RBI double to right by Williams. Boonville scored the next four runs on four walks and two wild pitches.
Smith said the middle of the lineup produced pretty well.
“Two, three and four,” Smith said. “All of those guys were doing their job. We had some ups and downs throughout the year but once we got through the first couple of innings it kind of got contagious and we put a couple of crooked numbers up there with three and seven in back to back innings. Good win at home. It’s great to advance in five innings because we save a little pitching so we will have Viertel and Lang for Wednesday.”
Ficken finished the game 2-for-2 with a double, home run and four RBIs. Barnes also had two hits, both being singles. Williams doubled and drove in two runs while Horst had one double and one RBI, Reardon also with one double, Waibel and Campbell each with one single and Cody Garner with one RBI.
For Mexico, Tyler Prince, Cody Rowe and Collin Clay each had one single.
Zach Watkins took the loss on the mound for Mexico by giving up 10 runs on nine hits and six walks in 3 1/3 innings.