In a contest that in many ways mirrored the frustrations of their season, Perry found themselves on the short end of a 3-2 decision against Boone at North Polk Friday.
The Bluejays (7-21) outhit the Toreadors (20-10) 6-4, but allowed Boone to score all three of their runs without an RBI in dropping their Class 3A District 14 Semifinal.
Boone will return to Alleman to face North Polk Monday in the District Finals. The Comets survived an unexpected scare from DC-G, topping the Mustangs, 3-2, in nine innings.
Perry received a strong outing on the hill from senior lefthander Kyle Nevitt, who allowed just four hits over 5-2/3 innings. He walked five batters and hit three with pitches but struck out eight.
Unfortunately, it was two of those walks and one of the hit batsmen that accounted for the Boone runs, all of which were sparked by defensive lapses.
“In his last five or six games I think Kyle has pitched exceptionally well for us, but we just haven’t supported him, either offensively or defensively, and that is why his record is what it is,” Perry head coach Mike Long said. “He has been consistent and thrown the ball hard. He has walked some people, but you can do that if you are also going to strike some people out, and he has. We just didn’t make a few plays, and it was enough to cost us, because we didn’t give ourselves any room offensively.”
Nevitt helped himself in the top of the first inning by turning on a fast ball from Boone’s Dresden Wilson, who, like Nevitt, is a hard-throwing lefty. The blast sailed over the fence in left-center for a quick 1-0 lead.
Janier Puente reached on an infield hit moments late, with Brandon Kenyon adding a two-out single, but Perry could not produce another run.
Boone tied the game in the second when Tanner Schminke walked, with a sacrifice bunt and a Jackson Smith single putting runners on the corners. Schminke then caught the Bluejays napping as he perfectly timed the return throw to Nevitt from catcher Kenyon and broke for the plate. Caught completely off-guard, Nevitt turned to fire home, but Kenyon was still behind the plate as Schminke slid across the plate to tie the game.
A walk followed to put two Toreadors again on base, but Nevitt tallied a strikeout to end the rally.
Perry responded with a run in their next at-bat. Nevitt singled with one out, with courtesy runner Kato Dougan eventually scoring off a Puente single for a 2-1 Bluejay lead.
The Toreadors tied the game in the fourth as an error, three walks, a hit batsman and a passed ball (although not in that order) combined to allow the tying run to score, but Nevitt recorded a strikeout to leave the bases loaded and keep the game tied.
The Jays appeared to be in business in the fifth when Aaron Lockwood started the inning by reaching on an error when Wilson threw wildly to first off a come-backer to the mound. Justin Stammer drew a walk to put two runners aboard with no outs, but a popped-up bunt, a ground out and a soft liner to first kept Perry from scoring.
Boone cashed in in the bottom of the fifth when Schminke was plunked on the foot by a pitch. He was bunted to second and scored on an infield error for a 3-2 Toreador lead.
Perry had one last gasp, with Austin Carpenter starting the seventh with a single, but a fly out, a fielder’s choice and a pop out to first brought the season to an end.
“It was a frustrating year for us because I think we had expectations of winning more games than we did,” Long said. “We lost seven games by one run and another four by two, and if you can turn half or more of those around and you have a decent season, because that might lead to even more wins, as it would have given us some confidence.”
Puente had two singles and faced the final Boone batter of the sixth, striking him out.
Nevitt had a single and his second home run of the season, with Kenyon and Carpenter also recording hits.
Wilson yielded two runs on six hits in seven innings for Boone. He issued one walk and struck out eight.
The loss ends the prep careers of Nevitt and Puente, who will both play for DMACC next year. Also finished are Adan Medina and Andrew Pentico.
“I tell you, the difference in attitude the last two years from Janier and Kyle has been really something,” Long stated. “They both really matured. They are both emotional players, but they have really improved not letting it be a problem by getting mad at themselves like they used to. They were really fun to be around.”
“Andrew didn’t play a lot of varsity for us but is just a great kid and someone who want to have around,” Long said. “That is exactly how Adan is, too — as a coach you hope you could have a whole team like him, because he is just going to work hard and do whatever you ask and never complain.”