COLUMBIA — "Have you ever seen a wilder high school baseball game?”
That was the question asked to 10-year umpiring veteran Justin Phillips before the seventh inning at Rock Bridge field Monday night, before the Bruins baseball team, down 15-12, collected its 13th, 14th and 15th hits to load the bases for the heart of its order.
Still, Phillips didn’t hesitate. He just shook his head, almost in disbelief, and replied.
Flash forward to after the seventh, after a fielder’s choice and two pop outs squandered what felt like a game-long Bruins comeback, and Rock Bridge lost 15-13 to visiting Boonville, and senior second baseman Mike Nemec was looking for answers.
“I’m a little embarrassed, honestly,” Nemec said. “I’m fired up, too. I’m ready to whoop somebody right now.”
Nemec enjoyed a splendid day at the plate (3-for-4, two RBIs and three runs scored), but five Bruins pitchers combined to put in an effort all that offense couldn’t overcome.
“I don’t remember losing a game with 13 runs,” Rock Bridge coach Justin Towe said. “It may have happened, but I don’t remember. Because you don’t want to remember those.”
Those in attendance won’t soon forget Monday’s game, a laughably exciting back-and-forth affair that featured 28 runs, 29 hits, diving plays, baseballs to the face and maybe the weirdest play one can write in a scorecard.
The Bruins led 7-4 after two innings, but Boonville added seven runs in the fourth off Rock Bridge pitchers Matt Widhalm and Braedon Rogers and led 11-9 going into the fifth.
A botched pick-off play allowed Boonville’s Ethan Sander to steal second in the fifth, and he scored on Jordan Copeland’s single to extend the lead to 12-9.
But Rock Bridge kept battling. Logan Twehous led off the bottom of the inning with a double to the wall in left and scored on Matt Priest's single to right. Nemec scored Priest with a double over the right fielder’s head — mercifully ending Boonville starter Caleb Hein’s day — then scored on Connor Brumfield’s single to tie the game at 12.
Rock Bridge reliever Chandler Wyatt immediately loaded the bases in the top of the sixth, then threw a pitch that ricocheted off the bat and into the face of Boonville’s Alec Viertel.
Trainers and coaches attended to Viertel for several minutes, but he was forced to return to the box because Phillips had signaled a foul ball. Viertel struck out on the next pitch, and after next batter Sander grounded a ball to short, it looked as if Rock Bridge might be out of the woods.
But Sander’s grounder was slow, and Boonville’s Jalen Poindexter beat the throw home to break the tie for good.
After a bloop single, Jacob Francis plated Boonville’s 15th and final run with a line drive to left. Francis won’t get credit for a hit though because the junior hurt himself on the swing, fell to the ground and was tagged out by the catcher halfway up the first base line.
Your standard 7-2-2 fielder’s choice. RBI.
Have you ever been a part of a wilder high school baseball game?
Nemec stared out into space.
"This might take me a second," he said.