ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The pitching of state-ranked and defending state champion Wichita Collegiate proved to be too much for the Hillsboro baseball team May 1. The Trojans dropped two games to the Spartans in Wichita, 4-1 and 5-1.
In the first game, Hillsboro managed just two hits. One of them, a single by Grant Brubacher to start the sixth, led to Hillsboro’s only run of the game.
Brubacher advanced on a wild pitch and eventually scored on a ball hit by James Bina with two outs in the inning.
Hillsboro, meanwhile, got strong pitching from Dustin Jost. The sophomore gave up two runs in the first inning on a single, a walk and hit batter followed by a pair of ground outs.
That proved to be all the runs the Spartans needed, but they added single runs in the fourth and fifth innings.
Jost (2-2) gave up six hits and three walks through seven innings and struck out two.
The big blow in the second game came in the third inning when Collegiate’s Dakhil hit a three-run homer with one out to inflate the Spartans’ lead from 2-1 to 5-1.
Hillsboro had scored the previous inning on a walk to Nathan Fish with two outs, followed by consecutive singles by James Bina and Corey Thiessen.
Aside from the home run ball, Fish pitched well over his five innings. He gave up five runs, four earned, on five hits. He walked three and struck out three.
Layne Frick pitched the final inning in relief, giving up one hit and striking out two.
Coach Phil Oelke credited the pitching of the Spartans, but he said the Trojans made too many mistakes at critical times.
“We had some costly mental mistakes on base running that took us out of a couple of innings,” he said.
“We never really hit the ball, but that’s an attribute to their pitching,” he added. “The flip side of that is they hit the ball real well. At times we looked OK defensively and at times we did not.”
Oelke was pleased that his team played Collegiate as tough as it did, but felt the Trojans did not play to their potential.
“We played poorly, but at the same time did they make us play poorly?” he said. “Is that just a sign of what a good team can do to us? I certainly think we’re a better hitting ballclub than what we showed. Certainly we’re better defensively than we showed.
“It was good to see that caliber of a team, and the fact that we played them that closely tells us a lot as a team.”
Coming-The Trojans were scheduled to complete their regular season with a doubleheader against Canton on Tuesday. Oelke said the next goal is to play well at regionals and move on to the state playoffs for the first time in the program’s three-year history.
“I would be terribly disappointed if we don’t get to the finals in regionals,” he said. “And I will be surprised if Southeast (of Saline) isn’t in the finals at regionals.
“I really think it’s going to come down to how well we play defensively. If we field the ball cleanly and make good throws, I think we’ll be in contention to get out of here and maybe make it to Manhattan for a change.”