Boonville's 13-year-old baseball team headed to World Series
BOONVILLE - Boonville's 13-year-old baseball team is headed to the Babe Ruth World Series Thursday in Glen Allen, Virginia, for only the third time in the town's history. The tournament begins Aug. 16.
The current players have been together for five years. Right fielder Clayton Gochenour said they have greatly improved since they first started playing together.
"We weren't that good at nine years old," he said.
Now the team is the talk of the town.
"If you're around town, random people will congratulate you," second baseman Kellen Brownfield said.
Manager Evan Oswald said, "The moment we won regionals, I had my phone in my pocket. I got drenched with three water buckets. After it's all said and done, I had 82 messages in a span of seven minutes."
But before regionals, the team had to go through the state tournament.
"We lost the first game 3-1 in state to Mineral Area, and Mineral Area has had our number," Oswald said.
Coach Ken Brownfield said, "I felt like losing that first game was maybe what's helped us get to where we're at now."
Boonville proceeded to blowout its next two opponents in the losers bracket. That set up a rematch with none other than Mineral Area (MABA).
Clayton's mother, Cathy Gochenour, said, "Every time we come up against MABA, we have it in our mind that we're not good enough, and they are good enough."
To win the state title, Boonville needed to beat Mineral Area twice.
"The first game started at 1 o'clock and the [Mineral Area] coach said 'how long of a drive is it to Boonville', and I said 'it's roughly four hours'. He said 'OK, we'll have you home by 7 o'clock'" Oswald said.
That comment "triggered" Oswald and the rest of team.
"I said 'no. We're going to play two games today, and we're going back to Boonville at 11 o'clock with a state championship title in our hands,'" Oswald said. "There was no conversation after that."
Boonville won both games by 10 runs and took home the state title. Now the team is headed to Virginia, a place that no one on the team has ever been before.
"Probably 90 percent of my kids haven't flown, so we leave Thursday morning at about 3:30," Oswald said. "I can't wait to fly out with them, with 13 13-year-olds, bunch of knuckleheads, bunch of clowns as I would call them."