BOONVILLE — Two leads nearly slipped away for the Rick Ball Ford Post 642 Aux. American Legion team Wednesday, but the Juniors held on for a 9-7 victory over Boonville.
A 6-0 lead quickly diminished to a 6-5 lead in the sixth inning and a 9-5 lead ended up being 9-7 as Boonville scored two in the ninth.
But with runners on first and second, Tristen Jackson caught the runner at second base in a rundown and tagged him out to end the game.
Jackson allowed two runs on one hit and hit two batters in the ninth inning.
He was one of five players to take the mound for the Juniors on Wednesday as they get ready for the Wood Bat Tournament this weekend.
“We wanted to get them in, kind of get them going and ready for the weekend,” said Juniors coach Justin Wiskur.
Corbin Mertgen pitched three innings of one-hit baseball, striking out five and walking one.
Connor Spunaugle limited Boonville to one hit in two innings before Tyler Abney and Alec Luyet combined to throw three innings.
“He’s just been filling up the zone,” Wiskur said of Mertgen. “I think in a game like this we probably could have rolled with him for six or seven innings and he would have kept his pitch count under 100. I thought he did a good job and I thought Spunaugle did a good job. He’s been throwing the ball well these past few games too.”
The Juniors also had 15 players bat at least one time Wednesday to get them a chance to use a wood bat in a game.
The scoring started in the second inning when Derek Bivins scored when Spunaugle reached on an error.
Spunaugle later scored on a Kaleb Bishop groundout.
Bivins singled in Corbin Reese to make it 3-0 in the third. Chase Hagle scored on a wild pitch, Bivins scored on a Bishop single to right field and Spunaugle tagged up from third to score on a Jackson fly out to make it 6-0.
Boonville used four walks, three singles, a fielder’s choice and a hit by pitch to help it score five runs in the sixth inning.
A flyout with the bases loaded ended the inning.
An error and a Cash Miller single pushed three runs in for the Juniors in the eighth to build a 9-5 lead.
Boonville stranded the bases loaded in the eighth and got two runs in the ninth before Jackson tagged out a runner for the final out.
The Juniors will start the Wood Bat Tournament at 10 a.m. Friday, against one of the two Rock Bridge teams before playing Jefferson City at 7 p.m.
“I think our pitching staff is set up pretty good,” Wiskur said. “We’ll have everybody fresh. We’ve been playing pretty good defense lately and the bats are really starting to come alive.”