The Hillsboro baseball team ended a six-game week with a doubleheader sweep of Halstead Friday at Memorial Field.
The 11-5 and 12-2 victories bumped the Trojans’ season record to 9-7.
The turning point of the day came in a six-run fifth inning in Game 1. The Trojans had let bases-loaded opportunities to score in the first two innings produce only two runs, and found themselves trailing 5-3 after 41⁄2 innings.
But doubles by Josh Funk and Nathan Unruh and a triple by Lucas Sinclair fueled the six-run rally and a 9-5 lead. The Trojans seemed in control of their destiny from that point on, finishing with 13 hits in the opener and 24 for the night.
Unruh and Funk both had three hits in four at bats to lead the team in Game 1.
Dylan Nelson (3-0) picked up the win in relief of starter Jordan Faul, who went four innings. Nelson pitched three shutout innings, allowing only one hit.
The momentum of the first game carried over into Game 2, which ended by run rule after 41⁄2 innings after the Trojan opened the game with five runs in the first inning and six more in the third.
Sinclair, Unruh, Arnold and Funk each contributed two hits to the Trojans’ 11-hit attack.
Arnold scattered three hits over five innings while striking out five Dragons to even his record at 3-3.
“We had fun winning a doubleheader,” coach Doug Dick said. “We started out a little down, but the guys handled it really well. There was no quit in them.
“We had such a good night at the plate,” he added. “We only struck out one time during the doubleheader. I was really pleased with our overall game.”
Haven—Having to play doubleheaders on consecutive days caught up with the Trojans’ thin pitching staff in Game 2 of their doubleheader last Tuesday against the Wildcats.
After claiming a 13-3 run-rule victory in Game 1, the Trojans lost a 16-6 run-rule contest in Game 2 at Haven.
With the Trojans lacking rested, healthy pitchers, Josh Davidson stepped in as the starter in Game 2 despite not feeling well. When he faltered, David Dick was pressed into his high school pitching debut with HHS trailing 7-0 and the bases loaded with nobody out in the second inning.
Dick lasted six batters before he was relieved by Lucas Sinclair, who had pitched in relief a day earlier against Pratt.
“I didn’t want to bring Lucas in at that point, but bottom line, we’re not deep in pitching,” coach Doug Dick said. “When I used four pitchers the day before, I was just strapped for arms.”
Sinclair retired the side, but not before the Trojans had dug themselves into a 13-0 hole. The senior went on to finish the game, including three shutout innings before Haven scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth with the help of some Trojan fielding mistakes.
Coach Dick praised his team for not giving up after the rough start.
“We battled back and brought it back to 6-13,” he said. “We didn’t quit. But we just gave up too many early runs.”
In the opener, the Trojans got another solid pitching performance from freshman Dylan Nelson (2-0), who went the distance in the 13-3 victory.
In support, Hillsboro scored at least two runs in four of the six innings. Nathan Unruh fueled the attack with three hits in four at-bats with three runs batted in. He also scored twice.
David Dick went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored.
Pratt—Managing a total of only 11 hits and three runs for the day, the Trojans found themselves on the disappointing end of a 12-3, 4-0 doubleheader sweep versus Pratt last Monday at Memorial Field.
The games were postponed by weather April 26.
Hillsboro scored all three if its runs early in Game 1. Kale Arnold led off the second inning with a double and later scored on a ground out by David Dick.
A third inning single by Arnold chased home Jordan Faul and Lucas Sinclair, both of whom had reached on errors.
Meanwhile, Faul was struggling on the mound. After a scoreless first inning, Pratt touched him for four runs in the second and three more in the third. Faul was relieved by Jakob Hanschu with two outs in the third, having allowed only three hits but issuing eight walks.
“He had trouble finding the strike zone,” coach Doug Dick said of his No. 2 starter. “You’re going to have outings like that. But Hanschu came in and I was pleased with his effort.”
Hanschu allowed five runs in the final 41⁄3 innings, but only three were earned.
Game 2 belonged to Pratt pitcher Drake Evert. The sophomore scattered four hits in six shutout innings.
Arnold absorbed the loss for Hillsboro despite a solid outing. The senior allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits in five innings. Sinclair pitched the final two innings.
“I felt like we were competitive with Pratt—we just didn’t score,” coach Dick said. “In the second game we didn’t provide any offense to help Kale out. He pitched a good game.”
Coming—The Trojans (9-7) were scheduled to wrap up the regular season Tuesday with a doubleheader at Lyons.
The six-team Class 3A regional tournament is scheduled to begin Monday at Memorial Field. Joining the Trojans are Ellsworth, Southeast of Saline, Halstead, Haven and Marion.
At last word, Marion and Southeast had clinched the top two seeds; both will have a first-round bye. Hillsboro was in position to claim the No. 3 seed. If that scenario holds, Hillsboro likely would play winless Ellsworth in the first round.
The official schedule will appear at hillsborofreepress.com as soon as it becomes available.