ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The Hillsboro and Newton American Legion teams traded dramatic wins during their doubleheader Thursday in Newton.
Hillsboro, paced by Robert’s Verbic’s three-run double in the top of the seventh, clipped the home team 11-8 in the opener.
Newton won the nightcap 10-7 on the strength of Matt Klassen’s tie-breaking three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth.
In the opener, Hillsboro’s offense came alive early and late. Post 366 scored four runs in the top of the first thanks to three Newton errors and a two-run triple by Jamey Cooper.
Hillsboro added two more runs in the second to take a 6-1 led. Verbic tripled to lead off the inning, but then was caught in a rundown between third and home on a ground ball to the left side by Dustin Jost. Andy Brubacher, Kris Jones and Chase Freeborn followed with consecutive singles to score Jost and Brubacher.
Hillsboro bumped its lead to 7-1 in the third on a walk to Cooper, a throwing error when he tried to steal second, and a ground single to left by Graham Ratzlaff.
Hillsboro’s play lagged over the next few innings as Newton scored three runs in the bottom of the third inning and three more in the fifth to tie the game at 7-7.
In the seventh, Corey Thiessen and Jeremy Sheffler led off with ground-ball singles through the left side. Cooper and Ratzlaff then walked to force in the go-ahead run. Verbic followed with his dramatic blast to left center.
In the bottom of the inning, Newton came back with one run, but Sheffler relieved Jeremy Hanes on the mound to close the door.
Jones started the game on the mound for Hillsboro and lasted three innings. He gave up six runs on four hits and three walks.
Hanes took over in the fourth and gave up eight hits and two runs over the next three and a third innings to take the loss.
The second game was a mirror image of the first. This time, Newton jumped to the early lead with three runs in the first inning and four more in the second off starter Shawn Hughbanks to take a 7-1 lead.
Hillsboro came back with one run in the fourth on a walk to Verbic and a triple by Freeborn, but broke through with five runs in the fifth to tie the game at 7-7.
Steve Chisholm, who drove in Hillsboro’s first run in the second inning with a triple, doubled to lead off the fifth. Jared Fish reached on an error that scored Chisholm. Brubacher then singled and Jost doubled to score Fish and Brubacher.
After Jones flied out, Thiessen reached first on a throwing error. Freeborn followed with a double that drove in Jost and Thiessen.
The game stayed tied at 7-7 until Klassen’s three-run blast in the bottom of the sixth inning off Sheffler, who had come in to relieve starter Jost in the fifth.
Thiessen singled and Freeborn walked to lead off the Hillsboro seventh, but Newton retired the next three hitters to kill the threat.
With the split, Hillsboro’s record moves to 4-7.
Coming-The doubleheader with Council Grove scheduled for this past Sunday night was canceled for lack of players. Hillsboro was scheduled to play at Lindsborg Monday night, but results were not available because of this week’s early publication deadline. Post 366 travels to Sterling Sunday for a doubleheader. Game time is 6 p.m.