HHS soars past Eagles, looks to regionals

Hillsboro got strong pitching in the first game and strong hitting in the second game to sweep a doubleheader from Canton-Galva May 9 at Canton, 12-0 and 19-8.

With the wins, Hillsboro finished the regular season with a 14-5 record.

Hillsboro’s Nathan Fish starred on the mound in the opener. The senior left-hander shut out the Eagles on only two hits in the five-inning game. He struck out nine hitters and walked only one to raise his season record to 3-1.

Fish faced the minimum three batters in every inning except the fourth, when the Eagles managed a hit and a walk with nobody out. But Fish got the next hitter to fly out to left and then struck out the next two batters to end the threat.

Offensively, the Trojans started slowly. They manufactured a run in the first on a walk to Grant Brubacher, a sacrifice by Fish and an RBI single by James Bina.

Hillsboro scored a second run in the second inning on singles by Corey Thiessen and Dan Funk, an error on a ball hit by Jeremy Loewen to load the bases, and then a sacrifice fly by Shawn Hughbanks.

The Trojans, helped by a couple of more Eagle errors, pushed the lead to 4-0 after three innings, then took command in the fourth with three more runs.

Layne Frick provided the big blow in the fourth with a two-run homer to center.

Hillsboro added five more runs in the top of the fifth to set up the run-rule win.

Grant Brubacher’s double with no one out drove in Hughbanks and Andy Brubacher, who had opened the inning with singles.

In the second game, the Eagles looked to be the ones on the ball, taking a 6-1 lead through two innings.

Hughbanks started the game on the mound for Hillsboro. He pitched a strong opening inning, but struggled with his control in the second. He walked two batters and gave up three singles before Coach Phil Oelke pulled him and inserted Jerod Metcalf.

But Smith greeted the sophomore with a three-run homer to make the score 6-1.

Before Hillsboro’s sizeable contingent of fans could get too nervous, though, the Trojans broke through with a nine-run third inning.

Grant Brubacher opened with a single. After Frick grounded out, Bina, Thiessen and Funk followed with singles. Loewen and Hughbanks then hit back-to-back doubles and Dustin Jost singled to give Hillsboro an 8-6 lead.

After Brubacher popped out for the second out of the inning, Frick singled in Jost and Fish doubled to drive in Frick and make the score 10-6.

The Trojans added seven more runs in the sixth, fueled by doubles from Thiessen and Funk and a triple by Brubacher. They finished with two more runs in the top of the seventh. Jost’s triple drove in Loewen, who had reached on an error. Jost then scored on a single by pinch-hitter Steven Chisholm.

Metcalf pitched three innings in relief to pick up the win and move his record to 6-0. Frick earned his second save of the season by pitching the last two and two-thirds innings.

Brubacher and Thiessen were Hillsboro’s hottest hitters. Brubacher went 3-for-5 with a double, triple, three runs scored and five RBIs. Thiessen went 3-for-4 with a double, three RBIs and two runs scored.

Post-season action

The Trojans will take their 14-5 record to Marion on Thursday to begin regional action as the No. 2 seed in the five-team tournament.

Hillsboro will open play against third-seeded Beloit at 5 p.m., or 30 minutes after the end of the first semifinal game.

That 2 p.m. game pits top-seeded Southeast of Saline against the winner of Monday’s play-in game between No. 6 Herington and No. 4 Marion.

The championship game, with a state play-off berth on the line, will begin at 8 p.m. Thursday, or 30 minutes after the Hillsboro-Beloit game.

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