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College Signing: Jackson baseball’s Boone Gartman to continue career at St. Louis CC

After finishing his final season of high
school baseball at Jackson, third baseman Boone Gartman officially signed with
St. Louis Community College last month to continue his playing career.

At St. Louis CC, Gartman will be playing
and rooming with a familiar face since fellow 2019 classmate and pitcher Tyler
Martin signed with the school prior to the start of the season.

“To have [Gartman and Martin] be together
at one school says a lot about our program in general that a college would
select two kids from [Jackson] out of the entire country to come to their
school,” former Jackson head coach Bryan Austin said. “It also says a lot about
those two young men.”

After Martin signed with St. Louis, Gartman
decided to look into the school, and he liked what he saw. Gartman asked Martin
what he thought of him trying to play there.

“I went to a showcase [a week or two later]
to go play there, and the rest is history I guess,” Gartman said. “Tyler Martin
and I are different but similar, and it’s just fun to be around him because
he’s so different than the normal type of friend.”

Another reason why Boone decided to play at
St. Louis was because of what the city itself has to offer, such as being able
to attend Blues’ and Cardinals’ games. He is also excited to work with the coaching
staff and play at Meramec field.

“From what I’ve heard college baseball is a
whole different level of play,” Gartman said. “I just look forward to all of
the competition I’ll face that will make me a better person all around. It will
give me that drive and pride to play baseball and be better for myself and my

Gartman’s baseball career began with
Jackson Tribe when he was just a boy, but it was not until his freshman year at
Jackson when his love for the game developed to what it is today.

Gartman became the Indians mainstay at
third base over the last two seasons by only having 14 errors in 59 games. He
helped lead Jackson win the 2018 Class 5 District 1 Championship, which was its
second district title in the last three years at the time.

Jackson was only one game away from
reaching the Class 5 Final Four that year as it fell to eventual state
champions Vianney 9-2 in the quarterfinals.

“My junior year of baseball was probably my
favorite year I’ve ever had,” Gartman said. “The camaraderie that year was
great — [we were all] friends and had each other’s backs. That’s what really
made us a great baseball team.”

Gartman recorded a batting average of .293
along with 22 hits, scored 23 runs and finished with eight errors that season.
He followed that up this year by batting .324 with 22 hits, 11 runs batted in
and once again scored 23 runs.

This season, the Indians were unable to
reach the district championship game for the first time since 2014 by falling
to Hillsboro 8-6 in the semifinals.

Jackson still finished with 20 wins for the
fifth-straight season under Austin, who stepped down from his position
following the season to take the assistant principal job at R.O. Hawkins Junior
High School.

Austin said Gartman was the best third
baseman he had during his six-year stint with the Indians. Jackson went 120-68
overall and won three district titles under Austin.

“Gartman’s highest trait possible is he’s a
fantastic leader — he’s a great teammate and leader in the dugout,” Austin
said. “When he gets onto the baseball field, he’s just a plus defender at third
base. Some of the plays at third base that have become routine to us are
unbelievable plays.
In sectionals at Lindbergh [last year], he
made one of the best plays I’ve ever seen, and we ended up winning that
baseball game 1-0. I’m not sure if we do that without Boone Gartman playing
third base.”

Austin is a former college baseball player
himself as he suited up for Lindenwood, Jefferson Junior College and Fort Hay
State before graduating in 2006. The transition Austin notices his former
players from Jackson making the most in college is getting bigger in the weight

“The weight room is going to be huge for
him, and I think he has all the tools as a defender to be a college defender,”
Austin said. “The other thing he is mainly focusing on right now is being able
to produce offense at the college level.”

Gartman hopes to play at a university
following his two years at St. Louis, so he realizes he will need to spend
countless hours training.

Going to school in St. Louis will be quite
the experience for Gartman, but he will certainly miss his hometown Jackson.
“Definitely [will miss] the family aspect of it. I’ve got all my family members
in a three-hour radius supporting me.”

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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