Errors, walks key to defeat in regional championship game

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,

Wednesday.



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 errors.



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

18-4 season.



?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

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