By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – The Booneville High baseball team has been an exceptional hitting team all season, and the Blue Devils were exceptionally spectacular at the plate on Friday night.
In what many anticipated to be a pitchers’ duel, the eighth-ranked Blue Devils came out swinging, pounding out 14 hits in a 14-4 Game 1 mercy-rule shortened victory over top-ranked Mooreville.
“They just really beat on the ball all night long,” said Mooreville coach Rex Berryman, whose team suffered just its third loss of the season. “I’ll tell you what, they handed it to us. They handed it to us in every phase of the game.”
Game 2 of the best-of-three MHSAA Class 3A quarterfinals series will be today at 1 p.m. in Mooreville. The Troopers will try for better luck with Tyler Awtrey (9-0) on the mound for Game 2.
Booneville coach Bo Sandlin said his team’s Game 2 starter had yet to be determined as of Friday night.
“If they can continue to hit the ball that way, it’s going to be a short series,” Berryman added.
Adam Nichols had three hits, a walk, two RBIs and two runs scored on a night when every Booneville starter recorded at least one hit.
As part of the Blue Devils’ nine-run fourth inning, Nichols, the eighth-place hitter, laced an RBI triple to right that would turn into a four-bag trip around the bases when the throw from the cutoff man got past third base. That was the sophomore’s second at-bat of the inning as Booneville batted 11 times and chased Mooreville starting pitcher Taylor Dickerson (9-1) from the game when he failed to record an out in the inning.
Nichols’ 3 for 3 night began in the bottom of the first as he drove in the last of his team’s five runs that inning with a single through the left side of the infield.
“I thought our guys did a good job of being patient at the plate and just sticking with the plan and continuing to hit the baseball,” said Sandlin, after his team improved to 19-8-1. “We just wanted to attack. I thought it was critical for us to come out and get some runs early.”
That was especially critical when considering that Mooreville hit Booneville’s ace Kyle Stephenson (9-0) rather well on Friday night. The Troopers recorded 10 hits, with five doubles – two by Shane Reeves.
“Kyle threw the ball up in the strike zone all night long, and they hit him extremely well,” Sandlin said. “We were just proud, that even though he was struggling with his command, he continued to battle.
“Sometimes you don’t have your best stuff, and he overcame that tonight.”