ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Under the usual rules of etiquette, it?s the host who serves the
guest. This time, though, the unintended generosity of the visiting
Hillsboro High School baseball all but handed the regional
championship to the hometown Southeast of Saline Trojans, 11-9,
Hillsboro started off rudely enough by scoring a run in the top of the
first inning, then added three more runs in the second inning. Grant
Brubacher?s three-run, two-out homer was the big blow.
Hillsboro added two more runs in the third on base hits by James Bina,
Nathan Fish, Justin Friesen and Shawn Hughbanks to stake the team to a
6-4 lead going into the bottom of the third.
But Fish, who started both tournament games for Hillsboro, simply
couldn?t reestablish his effectiveness in the second game after a
strong performance in the first.
The junior left with nobody out in the third inning, having given up
five runs on seven walks and three Southeast hits. Five wild pitches
and three Trojan errors didn?t help.
Freshman Dustin Jost came into pitch and ended Southeast?s rally, but
not before the purple-clad Trojans had tied the game at 6-6.
Meanwhile, after a shaky start, Southeast starter Jeremy Petty seemed
to grow stronger with each inning.
From the fourth through sixth innings, he retired nine of the 11
batters he faced.
During the same stretch, the Southeast hitters, who knocked five
wind-aided home runs during their semifinal game against Beloit,
touched Jost for five runs on three hits, three walks and three more
Hillsboro reached for one last shot of redemption, scoring three runs
in the top of the seventh on consecutive hits by Bina, Fish and Kane
Adams, followed by sacrifices by Justin Friesen and Jeremy Loewen.
With two out, Petty struck out Hughbanks to end the rally, the game,
and Hillsboro?s dream of a state playoff.
?It was a game we should have pulled out,? coach Phil Oelke said
afterward. ?They put nine runs on the board and they earned them, and
I didn?t have an error for Southeast defensively.?
Oelke said his team?s defense was their own undoing, and he blamed
himself for not preparing them appropriately.
?I was concerned about hitting during the last week and half, and I
was devoting a lot of practice time to it,? he said. ?But then I step
back and look where we went defensively (during the same period), that
should have been a signal to me that we should have distributed our
practice time a little differently.?
Despite the disappointing finish, Oelke was pleased with his team?s
?We knew we could make it (to state), but the hex is still on us,? he
said. ?Regional finals seem to own our defensive gloves. Another year
from now we?ll wait to see what happens.?
Hoisington?A seven-run second inning propelled Hillsboro past
Hoisington, 11-6, in their semifinal game Wednesday.
With the scored tied 2-2, Hillsboro took advantage of three Hoisington
errors and six wild pitches by Hoisington pitcher Matt Dutton to break
open the game.
Grant Brubacher, Nathan Fish and Shawn Hughbanks each contributed hits
during the outburst.
Nathan Fish (6-1) pitched the first four innings for Hillsboro,
allowing only two runs on three hits. He struck out four and walked
one in a solid effort.
Layne Frick pitched the last three innings, allowing four runs on five
hits. He struck out four and walked two.
?We knew they had the potential to hit the ball, but I thought our
guys did a pretty good job of keeping their hitters off balance,?
coach Phil Oelke said.
Offensively, James Bina had three RBIs on a sacrifice and a single.
Fish, who went 3-for-4, and Kane Adams each drove in two runs.
Oelke was also pleased with his team?s base running.
?When we had the opportunity for the extra base, we took it,? he said.
?That?s what I?ve always told the guys?we
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF