Boonville opens summer season with doubleheader sweep against Harrisburg

Chris Bowie
Boonville pitcher Charlie Bronakowski applies the tag on a Harrisburg player at home plate in the fifth inning Thursday night in the season opener at the high school ballfield. The Pirates picked up the sweep against Harrisburg, winning 4-1 and 14-4.

Boonville senior Peyton Keeran couldn’t have said it any better Thursday night after completing a sweep against the Harrisburg Bulldogs.

After losing the entire 2020 baseball season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Keeran said after the game that it was just fun being on the field.

“It’s great to be back out there,” said Keeran, who will play next spring at Missouri Valley College in Marshall. “It’s always the best feeling just being out there with everyone. I know we can’t play for anything special, but we are still out here playing.”

Like many of his teammates, who have missed the last two months, Keeran was just glad to be back as the starting center fielder for the Pirates.

Keeran went 1-for-2 as Boonville defeated Harrisburg in Game 1 4-1. The Pirates also won the second game 14-4.

Boonville Pirates baseball coach Adam Arnette said all in all for the first game back the team played pretty well.

Harrisburg out-hit Boonville 6-5 but could only manage one run through seven innings. Boonville, meanwhile, scored four runs on five hits with no errors.

The game took the allotted time of one hour and 40 minutes, which made both coaches happy.

Arnette said the pitchers did a great job throwing strikes and filled up the zone.

“They really didn’t have to mix up their speeds that often,” Arnette said. “They were just throwing it up there and keeping the ball low. They got a few ground balls. I don’t think they had a really hard hit ball off of them the whole game, so I was really happy with that.

“Defensively, I thought we did alright. We had one mistake in the outfield where we didn’t know where we were going in one spot and one or two pass balls, but considering we hadn’t played in two months it really wasn’t too bad.”

The Boonville crowd was also ready to get back to baseball. With no bleachers to sit on at the high school field, the fans brought plenty of chairs to fill the area behind home plate.

Arnette said you couldn’t ask for a better day for baseball.

“It feels good,” Arnette said. “It’s beautiful out here and I think the guys are excited to be out here and get a game in. I just wish we could have hit the ball a little bit better. That’s one thing I told them. I saw a couple backward strikeouts and I hate that. That’s one of the things I really don’t like. If it was a real season we would have been running after the game for it, but I wish we would choke up and put the ball in play more with two strikes. But for the first game and not practicing for two months, it wasn’t terrible.”

Harrisburg entered the game with a record of 2-0 by picking up a sweep Tuesday against Blair Oaks’ freshmen team, winning 7-0 and 9-2.

Of course with just one practice under their belt prior to Thursday’s game, the Pirates had both good and bad moments. Defensively and pitching were about as good as could be expected from a team that hadn’t touched a ball in nearly two months.

Offensively, the Pirates struggled against Harrisburg pitcher Dustin Gipson. Gipson took the loss for the Bulldogs but still managed to strike out 11 Boonville batters in six innings.

As for Boonville pitchers, Lane West pitched the first three innings and struck out seven batters. He also gave up just two hits to record the win. Charlie Bronakowski, meanwhile, pitched four innings in relief and allowed one run on four hits and one walk while striking out 10 batters.

As for the scoring in the game, Boonville broke out the bats early with one run in the first on a one-out single past third by Peyton Taylor and a single to center by Saylor Marquez.

The Pirates also tacked on another run in the third when Keeran, who led off the inning with a walk, scored on a ground out to shortstop by Marquez.

Harrisburg threatened in the top half of the fifth after back to back singles and a walk to load the bases. However, on a play at the plate after a pass ball, Bronakowski got the tag down in plenty of time to end the inning.

The Pirates came right back with a big inning in its half of the fifth with two runs after back to back singles by Shane Chamberlain and Keeran and a two-RBI triple to right by Taylor to make it 4-0.

Taylor ended up being gunned down at the plate on a close call for the third out.

In the sixth, Harrisburg scored its only run of the ballgame after a bloop single over the first basemans head by Gipson and a RBI-double to left by Brayden Ott. But that was it as Bronakowski came back to strike out the next three batters to end the threat.

Boonville was led by Peyton Taylor with a single, triple and two RBIs. Saylor Marquez had a single and one RBI while Shane Chamberlain and Peyton Keeran each had one single.

For Harrisburg, Gipson went 3-for-3 with three singles. Brayden Ott doubled and drove in one run.

In the second game, Boonville broke a 4-4 tie after 2 1/2 with four runs in the bottom half of the third and six in the fourth to win by the mercy rule.

The Pirates also out-hit Harrisburg 9-0.

Arnette said the pitchers just couldn’t find the plate in the second game. “I thought Cameron Poulsen came in and did a good job,” Arnette said. Ialso thought we had several players with good at bats, and then we took advantage of them on the bases. We scored six runs in the fourth to break the game open and put us up by 10.”

Boonville used a total of four pitchers in Game 2.

Hunter Pethan and Connor Rhorer each had two hits in the game for Boonville. Arnette noted that Max Eckerle had a big double while Spencer Steakley also hit the ball well.