BY MASON STORNELLO
After a 6-10 campaign in their first season in the Boonville league with the 13-15-year-old Fayette team, three 15-year-old players found another opportunity to test their baseball merit.
After voting by a panel of coaches from each of the seven teams in the League, Fayette boasted three players among a team of 12 of the league’s best 15-year-olds. Sophomores Jack Kindle and Quess Frerking, and junior Cameron Stornello were selected to the Boonville All-Star team to play against nine teams from around the state.
Also selected from the Fayette team, Chris Brown and Tyler Bartholomew, will join Boonville 13-year-old All-Star team. Automatically named State Champions, (no other Missouri leagues fielded a 13 year old all-star team) they will enter the Babe Ruth regional tournament, to be played in Roseau, Minnesota,on July 25.
Coached by Kevin Lang, Charles Campbell, Rodney Vinson, and wearing Boonville Blue, the 15-year-old team took towards Joplin, Missouri, for their games, beginning July 13. Aside from Kindle, Frerking and Stornello, the 11-player team (12 players were named to the team, however, one chose not to play) consisted of New Franklin’s Andy Neal, Pilot Grove’s Cole Meisenheimer, and six Boonville stars. As per the tournament format, the boys would play four games to decide standing, after which the top four teams would play a two-tier tournament to decide a champion.
Over the course of their five games in four days, the boys from Fayette posted many impressive statistics. Kindle had an average of .429, and an on-base percentage of .500; each were the second highest on the team. As the leadoff batter, Kindle went 8-for-8 in stolen base attempts, leading the team by a wide margin.
Frerking swung .214, but slugged .357, and crossed the plate four times. He led the team with extra-base hits.
Stornello had two RBIs in only six at-bats. With Frerking solely behind the plate, Kindle splitting his time between center field and the pitcher’s mound, and Stornello playing first and pitching, each of the boys had a 1.000 fielding percentage.
Frerking caught 28 full innings, and caught four runners stealing. On the mound, Kindle had a perfect weekend. He threw 6.1 innings over three games, and did not give up a single hit giving him a perfect 0.00 ERA. He struck out seven and walked only one batter, hitting him with the pitch.
Stornello pitched three innings over two games. He gave up three hits, and one run. However, because the run was not the product of one of the hits, he also preserved a 0.00 ERA. He struck out four batters.
As only all-star teams were competing, presumably the best baseball that can be played at the 15-year-old level led to much excitement. From the Boonville All-Stars alone, spectators would witness several double plays, many of which were untraditional, including a bases-loaded, third base-catcher-first base double play.
Even more impressive, was a diving catch in the team’s last game by Boonville’s Josh Polk. Polk was playing deep left field, shading towards center when an opponent hit a high foul ball that appeared would go out of the stadium, over the wall running the length of the foul line. However, Polk gave chase, and missing a jut in the wall (to store the field tarp) by mere inches, dove into the gravel-dirt warning track, and came up with a catch. If anyone had a camera rolling, you would be watching Polk’s play on Sports Center right now.
Played early afternoon on Thursday, July 13, in their first game, the team found success. As the visitors on the scoreboard against a team out of Carthage, Missouri. Boonville scored 11 runs off of 13 hits, shut out their opponents, and took advantage of a 10-run mercy rule, ending the game after five complete innings. To comply with pitch count rules, three pitchers combined for the gem, two of which were Stornello and Kindle. With no errors over the five innings, Boonville held Carthage to only one hit.
In the bottom of the third inning, Stornello pitched his inning. He walked three batters, but found his mechanics, fanning a batter on three pitches then tossing two fly outs, one of which was snagged by Kindle in center field.
In his two innings, on 19 pitches, Kindle struck out two batters looking, fooling them with a slider, and pitched four ground-ball put outs, two of which he fielded himself. From behind the plate, Frerking gunned down Carthage’s only player to hit, when he attempted to steal second.
Batting leadoff, Kindle hit three singles on four at-bats with one RBI. He crossed the plate once, and struck out once.
Stepping to the plate three times, Frerking had no hits, but took advantage of a pair of errors in left field and at shortstop to turn contact into two RBIs and a trip to second and first base, respectively. Stornello grounded out at each of his three plate appearances. However he drove in two RBIs and moved another runner into scoring position.
The momentum of the first game, however, did not carry over into the second seeding game. Selected as the home team, Boonville “hosted” an All-Star team out of Southwestern Missouri, simply calling themselves “Southwest.”
Defensively, the Boonville boys were strong, giving up only 3 runs on 6 hits, over the course of the seven-inning game. However, their bats faltered, and with five hits spread throughout the game, scored only one.
On the mound, Kindle closed the game, throwing the bottom of the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings. He did not give up any hits and struck out four. When Kindle came to the mound in the bottom of the fifth, the bases were loaded, but Kindle chucked a backwards K, then off of a ground ball to second base, the defense behind him turned a double play.
At the plate, Frerking, Kindle, nor Stornello reached safely. Kindle had only four strikeouts over 16 plate appearances over the course of the tournament. Two of them came against Southwest.
After the tough seven innings earlier that day, the All-Stars took the field for their third game, this time at historic Joe Becker Stadium, home of the Joplin Outlaws. The boys found new spirit jumping to an early lead, scoring four runs in the top of the first. They would go to score 12 runs off of nine hits, and hold their opponents, out of Aurora, Missouri, to two runs, winning in five innings.
At the plate Kindle went 1-for-2 with a walk, an RBI single to right center, and he reached on an error from the right fielder. He stole four bases and scored twice.
Frerking went two for three with a double and a tripple, and crossed the plate on each.
During this game, New Franklin’s Neal hit a two-RBI -riple down the first base line. Stornello did not have an at-bat during the contest with Aurora.
However, Stornello pitched two innings, during which he struck out three batters and allowed no earned runs.
Frerking caught three of the game’s five innings, taking his first and only break from catching over the five games. He caught one runner stealing and picked one runner off of second base in the bottom of the third inning.
After three games, the Boonville All-Stars were 2-1. From the standings, it was clear that a team would need to win three of the four seeding games in order to continue into the top-four tournament.
Their opponent was the still-undefeated Southeast Missouri: South, who were recognized as the SEMO Spartans.
The choices were clear: win, or go home. These boys did not want to go home. They came out strong, taking three runs in the bottom of the first.
Kindle was one of these runs, after a single up the middle. Kindle would go 1-for-2, singling early and drawing a walk on a 3-2 count with several extra foul balls.
Neither Frerking nor Stornello recorded a hit in the contest, going 0-for-3 and 0-for-1, respectively. However, each took their at-bats deep in the count, wearing out pitchers, and using up their limited pitches.
Frerking again caught the entire game, picking behind a runner after the Spartan took too big of a lead, stranding him between first and second base. Boonville’s field executed the pickle perfectly, and found the out.
Kindle pitched an inning-and-a-third, closing against SEMO. He was brought in with two outs and loaded bases in the top of the sixth. On two pitches, he pitched a ground ball that ended the inning.
For the last out of the game, Kindle hit a rut and threw three balls in a row. However, he battled to a full count, and fooled the batter with an inside slider for a called strike.
After defeating SEMO, the Boonville All-Stars took a 3-1 record, which seeded them third. As it happens, the second seed belonged to the SEMO Spartans, so Game 5 came down to a rematch.
Unfortunately, the boys’ hits did not work together and they would go scoreless, while giving up seven runs on seven hits.
Frerking went 1-for-2 with a line drive single over the head of the second baseman and a walk.
Kindle went 1-for-3 with a leadoff single over the third baseman, and an error that let him reach first safely. However, he stole only to be stranded, and, on the error, was forced into a fielder’s choice.
Defensively, in the bottom of the third inning, with runners on first and third, Frerking shot the ball to second base, as the shortstop, Boonville’s Peyton Keeran, cut off the throw. Keeran fired the ball back to Frerking, who tagged the runner at the plate.