Wildcats come up short in title game

SENIOR LEADER — Wright City junior Ian Wolff makes contact with a pitch during a game earlier this season. Wolff helped lead the Wildcats to two victories in the district tournament. They bowed out in a 3-0 loss to Boonville in the championship game. Lyle Whitworth photo.
Scott Butler

#ThreeToZero. That’s the motto that will drive the Wright City baseball team until next season. 3-0 also happened to be the final score of the Class 4, District 7 championship game when No. 3 seed Boonville knocked off the fourth-seeded Wildcats May 19.

“Our drive and motivation alone will make us better for next year,” Head Coach Ryan Raterman said. “The vision of Boonville dogpiling on us will be the reason next year will be even better.”

In what was a very competitive game, Wright City came up just short in the end. Despite trailing throughout the whole game, the Wildcats had chances to push runs across and even tie it late in the ball game. 

“The bright spot was that we competed because we had guys on base all throughout the game,” Raterman said. “But we didn’t have the timely hitting like we did when we slayed the giant the night before against Southern Boone.”

Logan Kellner started on the mound for the Wildcats and kept them in the game. The junior pitched into the fifth inning, allowing only one earned run on six hits and three walks while striking out six. However, Wright City was only able to collect three hits and draw three walks. Ian Wolff led the offense and went 2 for 3 at the plate. Hayden Waters had the other hit for the Wildcats.

“We were kept off balance by a really good pitcher as he threw three to four pitches for strikes when and where he wanted,” Raterman said. “We only had five strikeouts so we were barreling up the baseball, but hitting right at the Pirates.” 

The day before, Wright City upset top seed Southern Boone 4-3 in the semifinals. Kyle Johnson earned the win on the mound, pitching 5 2/3 innings. He gave up three earned runs while striking out eight and walking six. Sam Unterreiner collected the save with 1 1/3 scoreless innings. He struck out three.

Johnson also also went deep with a two-run homers for the Wildcats. Logan McCartney scored twice.

Wright City finished the season with a 15-8-2 overall record and a perfect 9-0 conference record. However, second place in districts is not the finish they were looking for. The experience will drive them for the future.

“I tell these boys time and time again playoff baseball is just different,” Raterman said. “We now know how to deal with adversity because we have been through it now.”

Some of that adversity was needing to win three games, instead of two, for a district championship. Also, back-to-back days of getting out of their routine and driving almost two hours.

“We had to deal with being the underdog and know how to deal with emotions after winning a big game, then playing in another big game,” Raterman said. “We are ready now more than ever.”

Moving forward, the expectations are going to be even higher next year as reigning back-to-back conference champs. The Wildcats return nearly everyone as they only lose one senior, Unterreiner, who served as the squad’s closer.

“There are two ways to handle high expectations. You can downplay them and act like they don’t exist or you can live up to the expectations by outworking everyone in the offseason,” Raterman said. “If you were to ask anyone on our roster which way they want to handle these expectations, it’s the latter of the two because the last thing we remember is watching Boonville dogpile on the mound and that is a memory that will fuel us moving forward.” 


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