ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Hillsboro American Legion Post 366 ended its regular season with a 12-9 record after dropping a pair of games to Emporia Wednesday at Tabor Field.
Facing a talented and seasoned Emporia squad for the second time this season, Hillsboro battled competitively in the first game before losing 13-8 in seven innings.
The nightcap was a debacle, though, as Hillsboro pitchers walked six batters and hit seven more in an ugly 14-0 loss that was mercifully called by run-rule after four innings.
Hillsboro batters failed to get a hit in the game and managed only one base runner.
In the opener, Emporia jumped to a 4-0 lead in the first inning off starting pitcher Dustin Jost, who gave up a walk and three hits in the inning.
The visitors added single runs in the second and third innings before Hillsboro broke loose with three runs in the bottom of the third.
Jost walked to open the inning and Kris Jones followed with an infield single. After Jones was forced out at second on a fielder’s choice on a grounder by Jeremy Sheffler, Chase Freeborn grounded out. But with two outs, Jamey Cooper singled to drive in Jost and Sheffler.
Shawn Hughbanks followed with a triple to drive in Cooper and reduce Emporia’s lead to 6-3.
The visitors came back with two runs in the fourth to lead 8-3 and close book on Jost, who was relieved on the mound by Sheffler to start the fifth.
The hurler from Peabody allowed a run in the fifth, but helped his cause in the bottom of the inning with an infield base hit. He went to third with two outs on Cooper’s ground-rule double to left center, then scored on a wild pitch.
The score remained 9-4 until the seventh, when Emporia spread the gap with four more runs on four hits, including back-to-back triples, and three Hillsboro errors.
Hillsboro, fueled by Corey Thiessen’s three-run homer to left, scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh but could not pull themselves all of the way out of the hole.
In addition to Thiessen’s heroics, Sheffler went three-for-four at the plate, including a triple, and scored three times for Hillsboro.
In the second game, Hillsboro seemed to run out of gas and desire.
Jeremy Hanes started the game on the mound for the home team and left with nobody out in the third after plunking five batters and walking two. He gave up only two hits but was charged with eight runs.
Hanes was relieved by Jones, who proceeded to walk all three hitters he faced.
Freeborn then relieved Jones with the bases loaded and no one out. He threw two wild pitches to the first batter he faced, allowing two runs to score. He gave up a third run on an infield single before retiring the side with the score 11-0.
Hillsboro’s only base runner of the game was Thiessen, who was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the second inning.
Hillsboro will open play at 8:30 p.m. this evening as the host team and No. 2 seed in the Legion zone tournament at Tabor Field. They will play third-seeded Lyons.
The five-team double-elimination tournament could run through Sunday evening, depending how the games go.
The winner of the tournament will advance to the state tournament next week.
Emporia 13, Hillsboro 8
July 18, Tabor Field, Game 1
Emporia 4 1 1 2 1 0 4-13 14 0
Hillsboro (12-8) 0 0 3 0 1 0 4- 8 13 5
Hillsboro pitching: Dustin Jost (L) 4.0 innings, 23 AB, 4 K, 2 BB, 9 H, 8 R, 1 HBP, 1 BK; Jeremy Sheffler 18 AB, 2 K, 2 BB, 5 H, 5 R. Catcher: Kris Jones.
Hillsboro hitting (ab-r-h-rbi): Dustin Jost 2-1-0-0, Kris Jones 4-1-2-0, Jeremy Sheffler 4-3-3-0, Chase Freeborn 3-1-0-0, Jamey Cooper 4-1-2-2, Shawn Hughbanks 2-0-1-2, Robert Verbic 2-0-1-0, Corey Thiessen 2-1-2-3, Steven Chisholm 4-0-2-0, Graham Ratzlaff 3-0-0-0. Totals: 30-8-13-7. HR: Thiessen (1). 3B: Sheffler, Hughbanks. 2B: Cooper.
Emporia 14, Hillsboro 0
July 18, Tabor Field, Game 2
Emporia 2 4 5 3-14 4 0
Hillsboro (12-9) 0 0 0 0- 0 0 4
Hillsboro pitching: Jeremy Hanes (L) 2.0 innings, 15 AB, 3 K, 2 BB, 2 H, 8 R, 5 HBP; Kris Jones 0.0 innings, 3 AB. 0 K, 3 BB, 0 H, 3 R; Chase Freeborn 2.0 innings, 9 AB, 3 K, 1 BB, 2 H, 3 R, 2 HBP. Catcher: Jamey Cooper.
Hillsboro hitting (ab-r-h-rbi): Dustin Jost 2-0-0-0, Kris Jones 2-0-0-0, Jeremy Sheffler 2-0-0-0, Chase Freeborn 2-0-0-0, Jamey Cooper 1-0-0-0, Corey Thiessen 0-0-0-0, Shawn Hughbanks 1-0-0-0, Robert Verbic 1-0-0-0, Jared Fish 1-0-0-0. Totals: 12-0-0-0.