BOONEVILLE – Booneville High School hasn’t been to the state championship round in baseball since 1999.
They’re hoping to change that with a series win in the MHSAA Class 3A North Half Championships this weekend.
Game one was played Friday at Harold T. White Field as the Blue Devils welcomed Amory to the City Of Hospitality for the second time this season.
The first contest went the Panthers way as they edged Booneville 10-8 to begin a two-game sweep of the regular season series. Amory also won 5-4 at home later that week.
Two hard-fought, tightly contested contests no doubt. So why would anyone think things would be different Friday in Booneville?
In one of the wildest and mistake filled games this season, the Blue Devils walked off a 9-8 win over the Panthers when a wild pitch brought home Kyle Church from third, finishing off a rally from 8-6 down to begin the bottom half of the frame. The first run of the inning, making it 8-7, came on a sacrifice fly to right field while the tying run crossed the plate two minutes later on yet another wild pitch.
In all, if the adjusted stats were correct, seven of the 17 total runs in the tilt came via either a wild pitch or a throwing error.
In fact, of Amory’s first six runs against Booneville starting hurler Hayden Donahue, only one was earned.
The game began similar to a game of ping pong as both squads traded runs in the first and third innings, plating one run apiece each frame.
The Blue Devils took a 4-2 lead in the fourth on a grounder by designated hitter Gage Harrelson that bounced high over the third baseman’s glove and into left field plating two runs.
Then came a big inning for the Panthers as they scored four times in the top of the fifth to take a 6-4 lead on just two hits in the inning. Two walks and a wild pitch also contributed to the four-spot by Amory.
But Coach Kevin Williams club is nothing if not resilient, bouncing back with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the fifth frame to tie the game again at 6-all.
Amory threatened to blow the game wide open in the top of the seventh loading the bases with no outs. Williams made a key pitching change for the Devils and the Panthers only scored twice in the frame.
Heading to the home half of the seventh Booneville knew exactly what they needed to do and they got it done, scoring their three runs on just one hit with the two wild pitches being the difference in the game.
The Blue Devils improved to 23-10 with the victory and are now just one win away from reaching the state championship round for the first time in 22 years.
The Panthers fell to 24-11 with the loss and will look to extend the series to a full three games if they can win at home Saturday evening.
Attempts to reach Coach Williams went unanswered before deadline as the game ran late.