You didn’t have to tell the Boonville Pirates or Helias Crusaders that this was just a regular season game.
With a No. 1 seed in the district tournament likely going to the winner, Boonville and Helias were also playing for bragging rights as both teams entered the game ranked in the top 10 in the latest preseason rankings.
And just like many who thought this game would be close, the Crusaders pulled off a miraculous comeback by erasing a 2-0 deficit with two runs in the final two innings and one in the eighth for a 3-2 victory.
The loss dropped Boonville to 2-5 on the season while Helias improved to 4-0.
Despite the loss, Boonville Pirates baseball coach Adam Arnette said it was a good game to get some experience.
“Like I have said all along we have some young guys and they need this experience and I think we are going to learn from this experience and we are going to get better as a team. We’ll see them again later this year and it will be a whole different ballgame hopefully.”
Although the game had the makings of a district championship game or even a postseason game, pitching was forefront as it should be with senior ace Connor Barnes taking the mound for Boonville and Helias senior Zach Davidson on the hill for the Crusaders. And while both pitchers threw over 100 pitches before exiting the game, neither player got the decision.
Barnes pitched the first six innings and struck out eight batters while giving up two runs on nine hits and just one walk. Davidson, meanwhile, pitched seven innings and struck out 14 batters while giving up two runs on two hits and two walks.
Trae Williams took the loss for Boonville in 1 2/3 innings pitched. The senior closer-center fielder gave up one run on two hits and two walks while striking out three batters.
Arnette said Barnes is going to be a bulldog this year. “He is going to come out and battle every time he is on the mound,” Arnette said. “I have told him from Day 1 that he is going to take the ball and I am going to kind of let him go because he has earned that right. He has earned everything he’s got on the mound and he is definitely going to be a leader whenever he is on the mound.”
Arnette also praised Helias’ pitcher for coming out and attacking the younger kids.
“That lefty was pretty good,” Arnette said. “We have to do a better job of being selective on our pitches. He did a good job of pitching backwards on our middle of the order guys and just attacked our young kids like he should. Our young guys just have to do a better job of putting the ball in play. We did a better job on two strike approaches but we weren’t always successful with that.”
Hits were also hard to come by for the Pirates, who had only two in the game compared to 11 for Helias.
All of the scoring also came from the sixth inning on as pitching dominated the first five innings. However in the top half of the sixth, Boonville caught a break when junior Peyton Keeran hit a one-out single to left and then moved to second on the walk to Barnes. Meanwhile, after Keeran stole third, senior Dylan Watson hit a hard ground ball to third. Both Keeran and Barnes wound up scoring on a wild throw to first to put the Pirates up 2-0.
Helias got a run back in its half of the sixth after Jacob Weaver hit a one out single to right, advanced to third on the single to left by Michael Snyder and later scored on a single to center by Dawson Meyer. But after Weaver had scored the first run, Boonville got would have been the tying run at the plate on a great throw from Williams in center and the tag by Watson at home.
The Crusaders lost that run but would eventually tie the game in the bottom half of the seventh on a lead off single to left by Jason Binkley and a RBI-double to center by Trevor Austin. Then, after a 1-2-3 inning by Boonville in the top half of the eighth, Helias made its own break when the ball bounced off the shoulder of Watson on a strikeout and rolled back to the pitcher. Williams slipped on the play, which allowed the runner to reach first. Two batters later, Dawson Meyer singled to left to put runners on first and second. Meanwhile, after a ground out to second for the second out in the inning, Arnette elected to intentionally walk Austin to load the bases. Senior Zach Woehr then hit a single to right to score the winning run.
Arnette said he definitely had the guy they wanted up to bat.
“The lead off guy really hit the ball well so we put him on to load the bases and tried to get a force out,” Arnette said. “There was no other move, we had the guy we wanted he just put a good swing on it so you just have to tip your cap to him. Other than a loss I would say we had a pretty good overall performance. I would like to see the sticks come around a little bit and I think as it starts to heat up I think we will. We got those younger guys a little more experience. Our bats are going to come around and we’re going to at least start moving the ball over and we are going to get bunts down. We had a couple of times when we couldn’t do that and we are going to have to. I think we are definitely growing. I think you can see each game where we are taking a step forward and I think we are going to be a different team by the time the end of the year comes around.”
Trevor Austin, Zach Woehr, Jacob Weaver and Dawson Meyer each had two hits in the game for Helias, who finished the game with four doubles.
As for the hitting in the game for Boonville, Keeran and Carson Campbell each had one hit.
Helias also won the JV game against Boonville 9-7 in three innings.
The Pirates, dropping to 1-2 on the season, scored one in the first, two in the second, one in the third and three in the fourth. As for Helias, they scored three in the second and six in the third.
Boonville JV coach Greg Hough said the kids battled until the end. “Errors and mental mistakes cost us  in the third inning,” Hough said. “I’ve said it before, this is a great time for some of these guys to earn a chance to play at the 5 p.m. game and that’s my goal to prepare them for that level.”
Ethan Walker took the loss in relief for Boonville by giving up six runs on three hits and two walks in one inning pitched. Axton Nease started the game and pitched the first-two innings and allowed three runs on one hit and three walks.
The Pirates also out-hit Helias 6-4 despite the loss, with Chris Gross going 2-for-2 with one RBI. Kayle Rice had the only extra base hit in the game for Boonville, being a double. Bryce Harris had one hit and drove in one run while Harper Stock and Cale Fox each had one single.