Barnstroming baseball is back.
The Borgia Knights played their two pool games in the Four Rivers Classic Friday at two different locations and picked up two wins.
The Knights had been scheduled to play those games earlier in the week, but wet field conditions forced those games to be moved.
So, Borgia played Owensville Friday at the Borgia High School Field and earned a 7-1 victory.
The Knights then got up and drove over to Dutzow, where they took on Montgomery County in the other Pool A contest and came away with a 10-0 win on a no-hitter by senior Tony Helfrich.
“We had been worried about playing in two different places,” said Borgia Head Coach Rob Struckhoff. “We didn’t practice Thursday because we had to prepare our field since we couldn’t get the city park. After that, we drove to Dutzow and had to wait because the Washington freshmen were playing. It got colder. Montgomery County beat us there and they were out in the cold longer.”
The wins put Borgia into the winners’ bracket of the tournament Saturday in Pacific.
“We played until 9 p.m. Friday night and then had to get back on the bus for the early game at Pacific Saturday,” Struckhoff said.
The Saturday games can be found in separate stories in this section.
After watching other schools begin their seasons, the Knights finally got to play their opener Friday at their school field.
The Knights jumped out to the lead with a run in the third inning. Borgia scored again in the fourth and added four big runs in the bottom of the fifth.
After Borgia scored once in the sixth, Owensville added a run in the top of the seventh to break up the shutout.
Borgia got a complete game from sophomore Spencer Juergens.
“Juergens was outstanding,” Struckhoff said. “He throws pretty hard for a sophomore. He only allowed two hits and two walks while striking out eight. He threw only 55 pitches through the first six innings.”
The lone Owensville run was earned.
“I was very happy with his first varsity start,” Struckhoff said.
Struckhoff said it was a good thing to see the young players come through in the game.
“Coach (Spencer) Unnerstall and I didn’t know what we had this year,” Struckhoff said. “We’ve got a lot of new players without varsity experience. We had a lot of veterans last year. The young guys stepped up and did a good job. They were impressive.”
Borgia got two hits each from Helfrich, Justin Horace, Noah Borgerding, Nathaniel Hillermann and Matt Jones.
Helfrich doubled, scored a run and drove in one.
Horace doubled, scored twice and drove in a run.
Borgerding doubled, scored twice, walked and stole two bases.
Hillermann drove in two.
Jones doubled, walked and drove in two runs.
“We had eight hits from our top four hitters in the order,” Struckhoff said. “That made a huge difference. We knew we had good hitters coming back at the top of the order. The bottom of the order made the difference later in the tournament.”
Other hits came from Nick Jacquin and Michael Kren.
Todd Kleekamp scored two runs.
“Owensville’s pitcher (Alex Moritz) did a good job,” Struckhoff said. “This was our first time out and there were some nerves. When we scored four runs in the fifth inning, that broke it open.”
From there, the Knights hustled over to Dutzow for their second game. Borgia was supposed to play the Wildcats on Tuesday in Montgomery City, but that game was washed out.
Montgomery County had knocked the Knights out of contention for the winners’ bracket last year, something Struckhoff reminded the team about prior to the game.
“Montgomery County has a good team,” Struckhoff said. “We had a little talk about last year. We got a very impressive pitching performance from Tony.”
Helfrich went the distance, allowing only two walks while striking out 10 Wildcats.
“He was painting the corners from the start,” Struckhoff said. “He showed great control. He was throwing hard and it was difficult to hit that with the temperature in the upper 30s. He walked two of the first five batters he faced, but he settled down after that. His 10 strikeouts included the last five batters of the game.”
Offensively, the Knights scored five times in the second and five times in the fifth.
Borgerding, Grant Eckelkamp, Hillermann and Kren posted two hits apiece.
Borgerding doubled, scored once and drove in a run.
Eckelkamp scored twice and walked.
Hillermann doubled, scored twice and drove in two runs.
“Nathaniel had a great tournament for us,” Struckhoff said.
Kren scored twice and drove in two.
Jacquin, Horace and Helfrich each had one hit.
Horace doubled, walked and scored a run.
Helfrich helped his own cause by doubling, scoring, walking twice and stealing a base.
“Tony hit a long double which might have been out of the park on another day,” Struckhoff said.
The game ended after five innings on the mercy rule and the win gave Borgia the Pool A title and a berth in the semifinals in St. Clair Saturday morning.