The Boonville 9-year-old All-Stars could have easily packed its bags after drawing the No. 4 seed going into bracket play on Saturday
After finishing 1-2 in pool play, the Boonville 9 All-Stars had two choices to make for the rest of the tournament. They could either give up and go home or keep fighting until the final out.
As it turned out, the Boonville 9 All-Stars decided on the latter while battling back to finish third overall out of six teams.
While finishing the tournament with a record of 3-3 overall, Boonville manager Brian Jackson said afterwards that this is a really good group of boys.
"When they’re all pulling together, they really hit another level," Jackson said. "They are getting to the point where they are understanding each other’s strengths and feeding off of each other. They made a noticeable improvement over their performance in last year’s state tournament, and again, you can just tell that they have that confidence in themselves.
"We three coaches were all proud of the production we got up and down the entire lineup throughout the tournament. I’m excited to see what this group of boys will accomplish together as they get older."
Although the start is not what the Boonville 9 All-Stars wanted after losing to Sikeston 10-2 on Thursday, the next game against Carthage on Friday was another close game with the 9 All-Stars winning this time 9-5. Meanwhile, after losing to Mineral Area 18-12 later that afternoon to finish 1-2 in pool play, the Boonville 9 All-Stars came back with another impressive win by beating Carthage for the second time in the tournament by a score of 12-4.
Of course it didn’t get any easier after that as the Boonville 9 All-Stars fell in the semifinal round against Mineral Area 12-2. Meanwhile, after dropping down to the third place game, Boonville came back and avenged an earlier loss by beating Sikeston 18-10.
In the first game against Sikeston, Jackson said the boys had a hard time settling in as the rain came through and backed everything up that first night.
"Keeping loose for that long and not knowing how long it’ll take to get everything started can be difficult,"Jackson said. "The boys started off great, though. We just couldn’t string together enough hits."
Boonville’s only lead in the ballgame came in the first inning after putting up one run. However it was pretty much all Sikeston after that with three in the third, six in the fourth and one in the fifth.
Thomas Schuster took the loss on the mound for Boonville, with Levi Ray and Tallin Kempf pitching in relief.
Kade Watring, Quincy Hobbs, Race Leonard, Tallin Kempf and Bryton Scott each had one single in the game for the 9 All-Stars.
In the second against Carthage, the Boonville 9 All-Stars seemed to be a little more comfortable at the plate while scoring a total of nine runs on 10 hits.
"We looked a lot more comfortable at the plate this time around,"Jackson said. "We put up three runs through the first-three innings, but we left I think five runners on base in that same time. The fourth inning was big, as we finally broke through. Race also was rolling on the mound for us. He really set the tone in that game."
The Boonville 9 All-Stars never trailed in the game against Carthage, scoring three runs in the second and six again in the fourth. Carthage, meanwhile, scored three runs in the third and two in the fourth.
Race Leonard picked up the win on the mound for Boonville.
As for the hitting in the game, Thomas Schuster and Race Leonard each had two hits with a single and a double while Quincy Hobbs, Easton Gerding, Levi Ray, Tallin Kempf, Chandler Twenter and Corbin Jackson added one single apiece.
In the final game in pool play against Mineral Area, the Boonville 9 All-Stars had its best offensive performance to date with 12 runs on 11 hits. Unfortunately, Mineral Area was just a little better with 18 runs on 12 hits.
Jackson said you always know what you are going to get when you play Mineral Area.
"They don’t have a lot of miscues, so when you score 12 runs, you know you’ve probably earned it,"Jackson said. "I will give the boys this, they didn’t mail it in when we fell behind, Every inning Ikept asking them to change the number on the scoreboard and they kept doing it. We played well, but you have to bring your A-game against a team like that."
Eaton Gerding took the loss on the hill for Boonville.
Race Leonard was perfect at the plate for Boonville with two singles and two doubles. Quincy Hobbs and Easton Gerding also finished the game with multiple hits with two singles while Thomas Schuster, Levi Ray and Tallin Kempf added one single each.
In the first game in bracket play, the Boonville 9 All-Stars had a scary moment when Carthage jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top half of the first.
However, it was pretty much all Boonville after that as the 9 All-Stars added two in the first, two in the second, three in the third, three in the fourth and one in the fifth for the victory.
Jackson said he knew three runs wouldn’t win the game, but wanted to see how the boys responded.
"They answered back with two in the bottom of the first and then went out and shut them down in the second,"Jackson said. "We knew we needed to win this game to play on, so we had both Thomas and Race lined up to pitch. I figured one of them would be right, so we saw how it played out. Thomas threw well in the first, but he was laboring, so we had Race throw in the second. That was probably the best I’ve seen Race throw all year. He was working ahead and being efficient with his pitches, really commanding the strike zone."
Boonville also finished the game with 12 hits in the game, with Kade Watring going 3-for-4 with two singles and one triple. Tallin Kempf and Thomas Schuster each had two singles in the game while Quincy Hobbs added one home run and Race Leonard and Brad Bishop each with one single.
In the second game in bracket play, the Boonville 9 All-Stars couldn’t seem to buy a hit while Mineral Area came out swinging with seven runs in the first inning.
Jackson said he figured the 9 All-Stars would see MABA again. "We had a hard hit ball to center in the top of the first and their center fielder laid out to make an outstanding catch," Jackson said. "It was just that kind of game for us. We had a handful of hard hit balls that were just right at someone, and MABA kept finding the gaps."
Kade Watring took the loss on the mound for Boonville.
The 9 All-Stars were also ice cold at the plate with only four hits in the game. Quincy Hobbs, Thomas Schuster, Race Leonard and Tallin Kempf each had one single.
In the third place game against Sikeston, the Boonville 9 All-Stars had little trouble finding the plate in this game while scoring a total of 18 runs on 14 hits.
Jackson said the boys were disappointed to not be playing for the championship but were told by the coaches to make this their championship game.
"Not many teams get to win the last game they play in a tournament, so it was a chance to go out on a high note,"Jackson said. "By this point, most teams were really hurting on pitching, but we had five of our seven pitchers still available, so we really liked our chances. Being the lower seed, we were visitors, which I actually liked because you can set the tone in the first inning. And we did. We jumped out for four runs in the first inning.
"They rallied back with three in the bottom. We answered with four more and they with five of their own. Very back and forth. I told the boys after the game that I was proud of them for not letting that get them down. They really got behind their pitchers today. Thomas started strong and Tallin came in and shut the door the last few innings. The fifth inning was huge. Batting around gave the boys a little more bounce in their step when they went back out in the field. You could feel the confidence they were carrying."
The Boonville 9 All-Stars led Sikeston 4-3 after one and 8-7 after two. Meanwhile, after Sikeston tied the game with one run in the third to make it 8-all, the 9 All-Stars came back with three in the fourth, six in the fifth and one in the sixth for the victory.
Thomas Schuster started on the mound for Boonville but was relieved by Tallin Kempf in the final two innings.
The 9 All-Stars also finished the game with 13 hits, with Race Leonard going 4-for-5 with one single, two doubles and one triple. Tallin Kempf finished the game with three singles while Levi Ray added two singles and one double, Quincy Hobbs with two singles and Thomas Schuster with one triple.