A rally in the first game fell short for the Sedalia Rick Ball Ford Juniors, but they were able to pick up a 2-1 win in game two to split with Boonville on Wednesday at Dey Field at Liberty Park.
The Juniors found their stroke at the plate a little too late in game one.
Down 8-3 heading to the bottom of the seventh, the Juniors loaded the bases with two outs.
Corbin Reese, in only his second plate appearance of the game, lined one up the middle for a single to drive in Mason Sanders. Derek Bivens went from second to third on the play and then scored on a wild pitch to make it 8-5.
With runners at second and third, Connor Harms delivered with a single to score Kaleb Bishop and Reese, but the rally ended with Corbin Mertgen’s grounder to the shortstop and a step on second base for the force out.
“We’re starting to learn as a team that we don’t have to wait for those instances to kick it in just like that,” said Juniors coach Brent Hodge. “The kids were saying the same thing, ‘we should have done that earlier.’ They’ve got a lot of fight. They put themselves in a hole in the sixth inning. They realized that and they were able to battle through that and still fight that seventh inning.”
The Juniors led 3-2 after five innings, but Booneville took a 6-3 lead with four runs in the sixth.
“One inning, one inning,” Hodge said. “We just talked about every time you step on the baseball field you’ve got seven strong innings. Seven innings all the time. When you take that one inning off when you’re playing a decent team they are going to make you pay every time.”
Boonville tied the game up when a throw to home plate on a grounder to first base wasn’t in time.
The next batter grounded out, but the runner scored from third when the ball was thrown to second base in an attempt to catch him in a rundown.
Brady Gholson then hit a bloop single to right field to make it 6-3 Boonville.
A wild pitch and a groundout allowed two more runs to score for Boonville in the seventh.
Connor Spunaugle started on the mound for the Juniors, striking out three and walking none in five innings. He gave up two runs on four hits.
Cole Ficken found the gap in left field for a double with two outs in the first and Bellmer’s hard ground ball got past the third baseman’s glove, allowing Ficken to score from third. Ficken got to third on a wild pitch.
Spunaugle got out of the inning with a groundout and only allowed one more run after that.
“He struggled finding it in the beginning, but he was able to only give up one run and then he settled in, threw strikes,” Hodge said. “That’s all you’ve got to do is throw strikes and have good defense behind you.”
Tristan Jackson pitched two innings of relief, giving up six runs on five hits.
Reese started game two, pitching four scoreless innings.
Boonville on the board first in the fifth, but Clayton Meyer scored from third base for the Juniors in the bottom half when a throw to second base on a steal attempt was high.
The Juniors took the lead in the sixth when a high throw to first base on a double play ball allowed Reese to score.
Alec Luyet closed out the final three innings on the mound for the Juniors to earn the win.
The Juniors are scheduled to play a tournament in Springfield starting Friday and going through Sunday.
On Friday, they will play Festus at 1:30 p.m. and Kickapoo at 6 p.m. They will play at 9 a.m. Saturday against Willard with the final matchups being Sunday.