ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
by Don Ratzlaff
Shawn Hughbanks and Jerod Metcalf combined for a seven-hitter, helping the Trojans survive a strong pitching performance by Marion’s Mitch Enos to beat the Warriors 4-2 in the second game of their season-opening doubleheader Thursday at Marion.
Hillsboro won the first game in five innings, 18-4, behind a 15-hit attack and seven-hit pitching by Layne Frick and Dustin Jost.
While the first game was all but over early, the nightcap was in question until the final out.
Hillsboro got to Enos with a run in the first inning without a base hit. With one out, Frick walked, stole second, advanced to third on a balk, then crossed the plate on a wild pitch.
Marion came right back to tie the game in their half of the inning after Tyler Smith singled with one out, then scored on fielding errors by shortstop Dustin Jost and first baseman Ben Walker on a ground ball hit by Robert Verbic.
The Trojans scored what proved to be the winning runs in the second inning when Kris Jones doubled and scored on a single by Ronn Coates. Coates then scored on a base hit by Steven Chisholm to give Hillsboro a 3-1 advantage.
Marion pulled back to within one run in the bottom of the third when Jason Matz reached on an error by Jost, then scored on consecutive singles by Tyler Richmond, Jimmy Shipman and Clayton Chamberland.
Hillsboro added an insurance run in the seventh when Chisholm reached on an error and scored on a double by Frick.
Hughbanks (1-0) pitched four complete innings to pick up the win, giving up six hits and two unearned runs. Metcalf gave up one hit in two innings of relief but struck out six batters.
Enos, meanwhile, gave up only four Trojan hits and struck out eight over seven innings.
“He is such a competitor,” Trojan coach Phil Oelke said of Enos. “He kept us guessing the whole night.
“I think we let Enos take control of the game from the third through six inning,” he added. “We had an opportunity in the sixth, bases loaded, and we couldn’t get it done.”
The Trojans got it done plenty of times in the opener, though. A six-run first inning set the tone as the Trojans got to Warrior starter Verbic for four hits, a walk and a hit-batsman.
Hillsboro stretched the lead to 8-0 in the top of the third before Marion scored its first two runs on a two-out double by Verbic.
The Trojans erased any hope of a comeback, though, with an eight-run fourth inning.
Jost was the big hitter for Hillsboro, going 4-for-5 at the plate with a double, triple, four runs scored and five batted in. James Bina drove in three runs with a pair of hits in four official at bats.
In addition to his offense, Jost took the mound with two on base and no one out in the fourth inning, and gave up no runs and only two hits in two innings to pick up a save.
Starting pitcher Frick (1-0) gave up five hits and three earned runs over a little more than three innings of work, but walked no one.
“I thought Layne looked pretty good, considering he hadn’t actually thrown a whole lot yet in practice,” Oelke said. “He was pretty much around the plate.”
Oelke was pleased to pick up two wins, but he saw a lot of ways his team needs to improve.
“We showed our inexperience,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. Especially in the second game.
“In the first game, I thought things actually went pretty well. We knew what we wanted to do at the plate in terms of hitting to the opposite field and up the middle. I think for the most part we really did a good job of that.
“Defensively, the first game I thought we looked OK, but we didn’t throw the ball very well in terms of outfield to infield and infield across the diamond.
“The second game, defensively, I was not at all happy with the way things went,” Oelke added. “Hughbanks, in my opinion, threw a really good game. But we didn’t help him out much defensively. I expected some throwing and fielding mistakes on the infield, but the communication between our outfielders and infielders is what bothered me the most.”
The lack of communication twice led to collisions between fielders.
Overall, though, Oelke was pleased with the effort and the result.
“It was a good way to start,” he said. “And it was good that we saw a pitcher like Enos because Tuesday we’re going to see much better pitching, and we’ll certainly have to play better baseball than we did.”
Marion coach Sean Spoontz was pleased overall with his team’s play.
“The first game was a real wake-up call for us, playing the No. 3 team in the state,” Spoontz said. “It was a pretty good opener for us. We just need a little more experience.
“The second game we played a lot better,” he added. “Mitch Enos did a good job for us on the mound. He did a good job mixing up his pitches.
“It was good to compete with a classy ball club like Hillsboro,” Spoontz said. “The kids all hustled, and both teams played really well.”
Coming-The Trojans played at Lyons on Tuesday.
On Friday, they’re scheduled to play a doubleheader at Canton-Galva before opening at home against Haven the following Tuesday.
The Warriors resume play on Friday. They’re scheduled to play a doubleheader at Marion against Wichita Independent.
On Tuesday, Marion hosts Council Grove.
All games are scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m.