Smokin’!

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BY STAFF
For the second straight week, freshmen pitching propelled the Hillsboro High School baseball team to a doubleheader sweep. Smoky Valley was the victim Friday, 9-2 and 9-5, in Lindsborg.



The sweep lengthened the Trojans? win streak to six games and raised their record to 7-1.



In the opener, Jerod Metcalf (2-0) allowed two runs in the first inning, but then shut down the Vikings the last six innings. He scattered six hits and walked only one.



In the nightcap, Dustin Jost (2-0) allowed only three hits and one run in five innings, striking out three and walking three. He left the game with an 8-1 lead.



Shawn Hughbanks, another freshman, threw the final two innings. He gave up four runs on four hits and a walk, but earned the save.



?I thought Smoky actually hit the ball as well or better than anybody we?ve faced, one through nine,? coach Phil Oelke said. ?We just threw good pitches and got a lot of ground balls. And that?s what we want.?



In the opener, the Trojans got all the runs they needed in the first inning. Grant Brubacher walked to start the game, Corey Thiessen and Daniel Funk followed with singles, but Brubacher was out on a fielder?s choice.



After Kane Adams struck out, Tyson Ratzlaff walked to load the bases. Jeremy Loewen and James Bina followed with RBI singles, then Layne Frick walked to force in the third run.



Smoky Valley looked to make a game of it in the bottom of the first when Brad Bergston hit a two-run inside-the-park home run.



Two more hits followed, but Metcalf finally got the third out when catcher James Bina threw out Brian Bergston trying to steal third.



Hillsboro added another run in the fourth inning, but finally gave themselves some breathing room with three runs in the fifth.



Ratzlaff opened the inning with a double past the third baseman. Loewen followed with a grounder to third, but the fielder threw the ball past first allowing Ratzlaff to score.



Bina followed with an RBI double to score Loewen. Bina scored when the catcher threw the ball past third when Bina tried to advance as Frick missed a bunt.



In the second game, the Vikings tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second when the leadoff man walked, took second on a sacrifice bunt, then scored on a single by Brad Bergston.



After a put-out by Adams, Jost walked one batter and hit another to load the bases before striking out the Viking?s catcher to end the inning.



Hillsboro followed with a six-run second inning, knocking out five hits but getting two walks and a couple of errors from the home team.



With the bases full and no outs, the Vikings? shortstop threw Grant Brubacher?s tough grounder past second, allowing three runs to score.



After Corey Thiessen walked, Funk followed with a wicked shot between the legs of the Vikings? third baseman. The hit went for a triple and drove in two more runs.



When Jost left the game after five innings, the Vikings made a four-run comeback in the last two frames with the help of three Trojan errors.



But Hughbanks, after giving up a two-run triple to pinch hitter Josh Lloyd with only one out in the seventh, got the Vikings out on a couple of fly balls to end the game.



Except for the defensive lapse at the end of the game, Oelke was pleased with his defense, too.



?Up until that point, I thought we played the best we had in the last two years,? he said.



Moundridge?Grant Brubacher hit two home runs in the first game and Jeremy Loewen went a perfect 5-for-5 with three RBIs on the day to lead Hillsboro to a 17-5, 15-10 sweep of Moundridge at Memorial Field April 11.



In the opener, Loewen?s two-run double sparked a six-run first inning, which was fueled by nine Wildcat errors.



?We jumped all over them right away,? coach Phil Oelke said. ?Their pitching wasn?t very solid and their catcher in the first game didn?t have any talent at all. I?m not sure how many passed balls they had, but there were a ton. We were running on them constantly.?



Aided by three Trojan errors, Moundridge came back with three runs in the third to close the gap to 6-4. But Hillsboro answered with three runs of their own in the home half of the inning, sparked by a Brubacher two-run round-tripper.



In the fourth, the Trojans put the game away with eight more runs. Brubacher drove in two of them with his second homer in as many at-bats.



Layne Frick drove in two runs with a double and Kane Adams drove in two with a triple.



Frick (2-0) scattered six hits over five innings for Hillsboro. He walked six and struck out one.



In the second game, the Trojans pounded out a season high 21 hits, including 4-for-5 and 3-for-5 performances by Daniel Funk and Tyson Ratzlaff, respectively. Everyone in the lineup notched at least one hit.



But Moundridge held the early advantage, taking a 5-0 lead going into the bottom of the second. Hillsboro came back with four runs on consecutive singles by Ratzlaff, Loewen, James Bina and Nathan Fish, walks to Ronn Coates and Brubacher, and then a single by Corey Thiessen.



The Trojans picked up two runs in the third and seven more in the fourth to take a commanding 13-3 lead.



When Moundridge fought back with three runs in the fifth, Hillsboro countered with two in the bottom of the sixth, including an RBI double by Funk.



Fish (1-1) pitched five innings for Hillsboro, allowing eight runs on eight hits and four walks. He struck out five.



Ratzlaff pitched the last two innings in relief, giving up two runs on three hits, six walks and no strikeouts.



Oelke was pleased with the work of his starting pitchers.



?(Layne) threw real well again and Nathan threw extremely well the second game,? he said. ?He started throwing his curveball for a strike and kept kids off balance quite a bit, too.?



The Trojans played host to Inman yesterday. Their next game will be in Clay Center April 25.

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