Boonville Pirates open summer season with doubleheader against Harrisburg

Chris Bowie
Boonville senior Peyton Keeran beats a throw to second during a game last year at the high school ballfield. The Boonville Pirates baseball team will host the Harrisburg Bulldogs in a doubleheader on Thursday at the high school ballfield starting at 6 p.m. The Pirates, like all schools across the state, lost their 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Boonville head coach Adam Arnette said he would like to get in four doubleheaders for the season.

Boonville Pirates baseball coach Adam Arnette doesn’t expect the Pirates to be in mid-season form come Thursday in a varsity doubleheader against Harrisburg.

The Pirates will host the Bulldogs in two seven-inning games on Thursday at 6 p.m. Then, on Monday, June 22, Boonville will travel to Cairo for another doubleheader starting at 6.

The doubleheaders will be open to the public. However, Arnette said fans will have to bring their own chairs. He said there will be no bleachers at the ballfield.

Arnette said he would like to get two more doubleheaders before ending the season the week of July 6.

The Pirates were scheduled to begin the season on March 20 at Fulton but had the season canceled due to COVID-19.

After finishing 17-9 in Arnette’s first season in 2019, Boonville looked to have another deep run in the playoffs this season with five starters back. The Pirates were also looking to defend their title in the Tri-County Conference after finishing 7-0.

Returning this season for Boonville were Marquez Saylor at first base, Peyton Taylor at second, Lane West at third, Josh Polk in left and Peyton Keeran in center. Kale Rice, the designated hitter in 2019 for Boonville, was also expected to take over the catching duties this season.

As for what he expects of the first game against the Bulldogs, Arnette said he expects the kids to come out and compete.

Of course the game will be the first for both Boonville and Harrisburg.

"We want to get the kids on the field and compete and have a good time,” Arnette said. “We also want to see what some of the younger kids can do because I have yet to see them in competition. These four doubleheaders will allow some of the older guys a chance to play for the final time in high school.

“I know a lot of them have summer teams so this is more of a secondary chance for them, but it will allow them to play on the high school team for at least the season that they lost.”

Arnette said he will probably start the first game with the older guys and then come back with the younger guys in the second game. He said it also depends on what arms are available to pitch since some of the kids are already throwing on weekends with their summer teams.

But the main thing, Arnette, is the health and safety of the kids first and foremost.

“I know some of the guys have thrown quite a bit so I am going to kind of talk to them and see what they have been throwing,” Arnette said. “We are still going to try and limit the number of pitches they throw and just try to keep everybody’s arm safe and just try to do things the right way as far as pitching goes.

“That’s our No. 1 concern is arm health and people just over doing it. We really don’t want to do that. We are going to try and limit that and count pitches and try to stay on top of that and just see how they feel. The players are going to have to communicate with us as well.”

Arnette said he expects 20-plus kids to participate in the summer games. Practices will also be held for the kids that can attend, he said.

“We will try to have practices as much as we can,” Arnette said. “We will try to work around everyones schedule. I know a lot of them can’t wait to get on the field. Again, I expect our kids to go out and compete just like any Boonville player does. I know during these workouts, they have been going out and throwing and hitting after that. I know the kids have also been working out and doing their part on some things. They may not have been able to do team stuff, but they have been trying to take care of their end of things. I also know they have been chomping at the bit ever since we have been told to stay home to get back out on the field.”

But for now, Arnette will go with what he has for these four doubleheaders and go from there. He said he doubts if there is ever going to be all nine guys that would have started the season in Game 1 out on the field.

“Some of them work and then you have people traveling and all sorts of different things,” Arnette said. “I just don’t ever see it happening, but we will try to evaluate some kids at positions and we will try to put a good lineup out there regardless.

“They are not going to be in mid-season form, though. Ware just wanting to see them do some good things out there like putting the ball in play and hustle around the bases. This will also be a good time to work on that type of stuff and take advantage of other team’s mistakes like pass balls and balls in the dirt. I think this is going to be a really good time to work on that stuff because that is one of the things that we really want to strive for.”