The Boonville 8-year-old All-Stars may have lost the battle for the title during the Midwest Plains Regional Tournament in Cape Girardeau, but they didn’t lose the fight after receiving the Sportsmanship Award by finishing 2-2 in the tournament.
Of course the Boonville 8 All-Stars couldn’t have asked for a better start in the tournament by beating Scott County 7-2 behind the hitting of Thomas Schuster, Race Leonard, Levi Ray and Tallin Kempf, who each had two hits in the game.
With 11 hits in the win over Scott County, the Boonville 8 All-Stars also opened the game with four runs in the first inning and then added two in the third and one again in the fourth. Scott County scored both runs in its half of the fourth.
Thomas Schuster and Race Leonard each had a single and a double to lead all hitters for Boonville. Levi Ray and Tallin Kempf added two singles each while Easton Gerding and Keylen Roper each doubled and Quincy Hobbs singled.
Boonville 8 All-Star manager Brian Jackson said getting out to a lead in the first helped set the tone of the game. “Scott County settled in offensively in their second trip through the lineup, but it was crucial that we jumped on the board right away,” Jackson said. “We had chances to burst the game wide open, but we left the bases loaded in the fourth and five innings. The boys made good plays defensively though, which kept us in control.”
The Boonville 8 All-Stars would get two more chances on Friday, playing Frontenac, Kansas in the first game and Kennett in the second.
In the game against Frontenac, the Boonville 8 All-Stars hit the ball right at someone while Frontenac found the gaps in a 12-2 victory.
Although the Boonville 8 All-Stars struggled to get anything going against Frontenac, they trailed by just two (4-2) after one inning. Unfortunately for Boonville, they had nothing to show for the next three innings while Frontenac tacked on eight more runs in the third.
Thomas Schuster, Easton Gerding, Levi Ray and Keylen Roper each had one hit in the game for Boonville.
Jackson said Frontenac had a very solid team. “We put up a couple runs early in the first but then caught some bad luck on a play you don’t see very often,” Jackson said. “We had a reactionary play where a base runner got hit by a line drive and we would’ve otherwise had two more runs, if not more. Two inches to the right and that really might still be going. But that’s baseball. Frontenac just squared up the ball a little better than we did. That’s all there really was to it. We hit several right at someone and Frontenac found the gaps.”
The Boonville 8 All-Stars would find the holes a little better in the game against Kennett, winning by a score of 8-6.
Jackson said the team had a great team effort against Kennett. “We had a few strikeouts early, but they shook it off and really played well up and down the lineup,” Jackson said. “We jumped out to an early 2-0 lead after a half inning, but Kennett answered back with two. They kept coming after us every time we would get a lead on them. The boys were resilient. We had several great plays in the field. Quincy Hobbs-pitcher-and Kade Watring-second base-made several plays between them. I’m very proud of the boys. They played a couple games in very hot conditions today. They could’ve hung their heads after the first game, but they put it behind them and took care of business in the second game.”
The Boonville 8 All-Stars showed they meant business after putting up two runs in the first inning against Kennett. But even then it wasn’t easy despite holding a 3-2 lead after three and a 4-2 advantage at the end of four. However in the fifth, Boonville tacked on three more runs while Kennett plated two to make it 7-4. Then, in the sixth, Boonville added one run while Kennett rallied back with two runs.
Bryton Scott had a single and double to lead all hitters for Boonville. Thomas Schuster, Levi Ray and Race Leonard each had two singles while Easton Gerding added one double and Quincy Hobbs, Keylen Roper, Corbin Jackson and Cooper Mapes with one single each.
In the final game in pool play against MABA American, the Boonville 8 All-Stars again struggled to put runs on the board while losing 12-5.
MABA American scored five runs in the first inning and then sent four more runs across in the third to go up 9-0 before Boonville would get on the board for the first time in the fourth with one run.  The Boonville 8 All-Stars then outscored MABA American 4-3 over the next-two innings.
“MABA American jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning,” Jackson said. “I really believe that if we’d have been visitors, we could’ve set the tone right off the bat. Baseball’s a game of breaks, both good and bad. Sometimes those can snowball. We had a couple mental errors in the field in the top of the first, but in all honesty, MABA was just finding holes in the field and hitting them where we weren’t. To top it all off, we come in to bat in the bottom of the first, and we ground into a double play where we hit the ball hard right to where they made a great play to double us up. Then, we make the third on an absolute rocket that was hit right at the left fielder. That’s baseball. Some days the breaks go our way, and some days they wind up the way they did for us.  A couple things go another way, and maybe we’re up by one or two runs after that inning.”
Jackson explained further in the first inning that his team got down. He said that happens sometimes, but the boys shook it off and battled back but waited until it was 9-0 to get the bats going.
“It’s like I told the boys-they could’ve easily packed it up and mailed it in after 3-4 innings, but they did exactly what I asked,” Jackson said. “They held them on defense, they made the plays in front of them, and they changed the number on the scoreboard when we came in to bat. And they turned what maybe looked like it could be a mercy rule into a full six innings. The MABA coach told us after the game that our guys had him nervous. We scored as many runs on them in just a couple innings than the other three teams they played combined. We knew we had them rattled, and just like the errors can snowball for a team, the hits we were stringing together were doing the same. The boys’ confidence was noticeably better, we just came up a little short.”
Quincy Hobbs and Race Leonard each had two singles in the game for Boonville. Levi Ray finished the game with one double while Keylen Roper and Bryton Scott added one single.
Jackson said he can’t overstate how proud he is of these boys.
“Maybe my favorite thing in all the year I’ve coached all-stars is seeing the development they make in such a short amount of time,” Jackson said. “The boys work is hard in practice for a few weeks, and it’s all for a few games that take a combined 4-5 hours to play. I saw so much improvement throughout our entire lineup, and I really think they will be able to build off this experience as they go forward.”