Hillsboro Legion team off to 3-4 start

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Jeremy Hanes scattered five hits and struck out 12 batters to lead the Hillsboro American Legion Post 366 baseball team to a 9-3 win over Council Grove and a split of their Sunday evening doubleheader at Tabor Field.


In the first game, Hillsboro dug itself out of an early 8-1 deficit, but let the game slip away in the final inning in a 12-9 loss.


With the split, Hillsboro’s season record stands at 3-4.


In the first game, Hillsboro committed five errors in the first two innings to help the visitors to an 8-1 lead.


Hillsboro came back to score four runs in the bottom of the second to lower the deficit to 8-5. The home team slowly crept up on Council Grove, scoring two runs in the fourth inning and one in the fifth to tie the game, 8-8, through five innings.


After Council Grove added a run in the top of the sixth, Graham Ratzlaff tied the game one last time with a home run in the bottom of the inning.


The visitors managed three more runs in the top of the seventh. Hillsboro drew three walks in their final at bat, but could not score.


In the second game, Hillsboro, aided by three walks, jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first inning on only one hit. Hillsboro added single runs in the third fourth and fifth innings, then put the game away with three more runs in the sixth.


That was plenty of support for Hanes, who was touched for two runs in the third on a triple and a pair of singles, and a final run in the bottom of the seventh. But Hanes dominated most of the game, striking out the side in the second and fifth innings.


Chapman-Andy Brubacher’s single drove in Chase Freeborn in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Hillsboro a 9-8 win over Chapman in extra innings Wednesday at Tabor Field.


Freeborn led off the ninth with a single and Shawn Hughbanks followed with a single of his own before Brubacher delivered his game-winner.


Hillsboro looked to be in control of the game when it scored five runs in the bottom of the third inning to take a 6-3 lead.


Hillsboro added a run in the fourth to go up 7-3, but Chapman came back to take an 8-7 lead with two runs in the fifth, one in the sixth and two more in the seventh.


Hillsboro sent the game into extra innings with a run in the bottom of the seventh. After Freeborn was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, Hughbanks grounded out, advancing Freeborn to second. Brubacher followed with an RBI single.


The second game of the scheduled doubleheader was cancelled because of the late hour.


On Saturday, lightning forced the suspension of Hillsboro’s scheduled doubleheader with Wichita. The game was called with Wichita leading 3-0 in the second inning.


After a rough start to the season, including two lopsided season-opening losses to the McPherson senior team, Hillsboro coach Lyman Adams is pleased with his team’s progress-particularly with a lot of preseason practice time lost to bad weather and almost nightly changes in the team lineup because of absences.


“June is a busy time,” he said. “The frustration of the manager is wondering whether you’re going to have nine players each night and, the nine that you have, how you’re going to put the pieces together.


“I’ve been really proud of the way the team has played with a patched-up lineup,” he added. “We’ve had kids playing out of positions, and struggling with who is going to pitch now and whose arm is strong. It’s frustrating, but it’s something we learn to deal with.”


This year’s team includes a mix of players from Hillsboro, Marion and Peabody. Beyond that, several of the Hillsboro players did not play a lot of ball during the high school spring season.


“We have to learn what each one of the kids is capable of doing and where they fit in best,” Adams said.


Coming-Hillsboro has two doubleheaders schedule for the week. On Wednesday, they host Sterling at Tabor Field. On Sunday, they travel to Emporia for their first away games of the season.


Both doubleheaders are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

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