ND grad earns first win

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Kirk Boeller spent his first two years at Southeast Missouri State as a regular student, with intercollegiate athletics not in the picture.

That changed this year, and Saturday the pitcher was rewarded with his first victory since his days at Notre Dame Regional High School.

"I love it," Boeller said.

Boeller worked the last three innings as Southeast beat Northern Illinois 15-5 in the opener of a doubleheader. He allowed one run on three hits and struck out two without walking a batter.

While the final score was lopsided, Boeller entered the contest when it was tied 4-4. He held NIU scoreless in the seventh, then watched Southeast's offense explode for 11 runs in its final two at-bats.

"That was good to see," Boeller said.

Boeller had pitched only five innings spanning three appearances without a decision before Saturday's outing. He hadn't been put in during a key situation, but was happy to perform in that role Saturday.

"I'm glad they [the coaches] had confidence in me," Boeller said.

Although Boeller gave up six earned runs in his earlier outings, Southeast coach Mark Hogan said he and his staff had seen enough of Boeller to be impressed.

"The times he's been in, he's thrown well," Hogan said.

Boeller said he was happy attending Southeast and not playing sports his first two years at the university.

"After high school, I figured that was it," he said. "Then I realized baseball is a big part of my life."

Boeller pitched over the summer for a team in Farmington, where the coach knew Hogan. That opened the door for him to earn a spot on the squad.

Despite missing fall practice with an injury, Boeller showed enough in the preseason to warrant making the team.

"We're glad he's playing for us," Hogan said.

So is Boeller, whose father, Keith, was a Southeast pitcher in the early 1980s.

"It's cool to say I put on the same jersey he did," Boeller said.

Even cooler now that he has his first collegiate win.

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