The Boonville Pirates baseball team knew they would see good competition in two days in Oxford, Alabama.
But this good.
After going 0-2 on Monday with a 11-1 loss against Opelika and a 8-6 setback against Austin (Decatur), the Pirates quickly learned that Tuesday wasn’t any better. Boonville fell in both games, losing to Oak Mountain 10-0 and Tuscaloosa County 11-4 to finish the trip at 0-4.
Boonville Pirates baseball coach Adam Arnette said the goal for the trip was to see good competition that would push his team to improve and that’s exactly what they saw. “We saw teams from bigger schools who have all played close to 20 games already,” Arnette said. “We knew it would be a challenge, now we must push to improve overall as a team.”
The Pirates, 1-4 on the season, will find out soon enough if the Alabama trip was a good thing. Boonville will host Hallsville, a Final Four team last year in Class 3, in the conference opener Friday night at Twillman field in Harley park starting at 5 p.m. Hallsville is currently 0-1 on the season with a 1-0 loss to Class 4 Mexico.
The Pirates will also have to find their offense and fast before Friday’s game. During the trip to Alabama, Boonville scored just 11 runs on just 17 hits but gave up 40 runs on 35 hits in four games. The defense will also have to come around as Boonville committed 15 errors during that span.
As for the game against Oak Mountain on Tuesday, the Pirates struggled mightly at the plate as Oak Mountain recorded a one-hit shutout for six innings with Peyton Keeran breaking up the no-hitter in the top half of the fourth.
Oak Mountain also did all of its scoring in just three innings by pushing across four in the first, five again in the third and one in the sixth. Oak Mountain also out-hit Boonville 9-0.
Lane West took the loss in his first varsity start for Boonville by giving up four runs on four hits and five walks in two innings. Kayle Rice then came in and pitched 3 1/3 innings in relief and allowed six runs on five hits and two walks while striking out two batters.
Arnette said West didn’t look back on the mound against a very good Oak Mountain team and also praised the pitching of Kayle Rice in relief. “I thought Kayle came in and did a great job,” Arnette said. “He kept the hitters off balance and mixed up his pitches well. Oak Mountain is a very good team who had a lot of experience. Nineteen of their 21 players were seniors. We made a few mistakes in the field and that is what allowed them to get to the 10 run mark. Their pitcher also mixed it up and hit his spots and had us off balance all game.”
The second game went a little better for the Pirates in the loss to Tuscaloosa County.
Although Tuscaloosa County still out-hit Boonville 12-6 and led at one point 8-1 after 4 1/2, the Pirates showed a little fight in the dog with one run in the fifth and two again in the sixth.
Trae Williams took the loss for Boonville in his first varsity start of the season. While normally the starting center fielder for the Pirates, Williams pitched five innings and gave up eight runs on nine hits and three walks while striking out three. Axton Nease then came in for two innings in relief and allowed three runs on three hits and two walks while striking out two batters.
“Trae did a good job extending his pitch count and throwing strikes,” Arnette said. “We challenged him to extend his innings and he did exactly that. Axton came in and did the same thing. Defensively we have to do a better job at making plays. We had a couple of errors that cost us runs early. We did a better job of hitting even though their pitcher had an odd arm angle with a lot of movement.”
As for the hitting, Williams and Connor Barnes each had two hits in the game for Boonville-both of which went for singles.
The Pirates had no extra base hits in the game against Tuscaloosa County.
Keeran drove in two of the four runs with a single while Hunter Pethan had the only other hit, being a single. Dylan Watson was also credited with one RBI.
Arnette said he thought the pitching was pretty good on Day 2. “Kayle really surprised us with how well he did on the mound, especially with the quality of the competition we were facing,” Arnette said. “Our pitchers did a great job of challenging hitters but we have to continue to improve defensively to support them. We were also able to get a look at a few people in different positions, and challenged people to step up and make plays.”