Trojans take first step at regionals with 11-2 win

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
A six-run third inning broke open a scoreless game and lifted Hillsboro past Hoisington, 11-2, Monday afternoon at Tabor Field and into the semifinals of their regional baseball tournament.

Knotted at zero, Graham Ratzlaff led off the home half of the third inning with a ground single to left. Kris Jones reached on an error to put runners on first and second.

After Ronn Coates lined out to the pitcher, Dustin Jost reached first on another Hoisington error to load the bases. Andy Brubacher followed with a solid single to left center to score Ratzlaff and Jones. Jerod Metcalf followed with a ground single to right to score Jost, and a double by James Bina drove in Brubacher.

Shawn Hughbanks beat out an infield single to score Metcalf. After Layne Frick grounded out and Ratzlaff walked, Bina scored on another shortstop error on a ball hit by Jones for a 6-0 Trojan lead.

As it turned out, that was more than enough for Trojan ace Metcalf, who recorded his 10th win of the season and 19th consecutive of his career.

Metcalf was touched for a two-run home run by Steve Eurich in the fifth but scattered five hits through six innings. He struck out five Cardinals and walked only one.

Frick pitched the final inning to close out the game.

The Trojans added a run in the fifth and four more in the sixth to put the game comfortably out of reach.

Besides his exploits on the mound, Metcalf finished 2-for-3 at the plate with two RBIs and two runs scored to pace the Trojans’ offensive attack.

Inman

The final scores resembled football, and Trojans circled the bases so many times it could have passed for a track meet. But Hillsboro took a baseball doubleheader from a young Inman squad last Tuesday, 29-2 and 19-3.

The Trojans’ 48 runs and 38 hits were school records for a doubleheader. And, despite how lopsided the outcome was, coach Phil Oelke said the games did have some value for his team besides the critical importance of adding two games to the win column.

“I really think it helped our confidence at the plate with regionals approaching,” he said. “We’ve had some guys who have been struggling a bit lately and were getting frustrated. Our guys were able to get some good swings in.”

Because both games essentially were decided early, dramatic hits were almost nonexistent. But several Trojans compiled some impressive statistics by the end of the day.

Heading that list was all-state catcher James Bina, who went 6-for-9 at the plate with seven runs batted in and nine runs scored. His six hits included two home runs, one monstrous grand slam in Game 2, and a double.

Those two home runs gave the junior seven for the season, a new Trojan single-season record.

Leadoff hitter Dustin Jost also went 6-for-9 to raise his team-leading batting average to an impressive .557 for the season. He drove in nine runs, scored five and collected three doubles and a home run. His six hits set a new single-season record for HHS with 44. He also set a new school record for doubles, with 13.

Bina and Jost are currently tied with a school-record 31 RBIs in a single season.

Shawn Hughbanks, meanwhile, contributed to the home-run parade against Inman with a solo shot in Game 2. He finished the day with an 8-for-10 performance at the plate, with six RBIs and seven runs scored.

In addition to the outstanding offense, the Trojans also benefited from solid pitching. In Game 1, Hughbanks and Layne Frick combined for a two-hitter over five innings, with six strikeouts and only one walk.

In the nightcap, Jerod Metcalf pitched the first two innings to raise his record to 9-0 and raised his school record for consecutive career victories to 18.

Jost and Steven Chisholm finished the five-inning game. Together, the trio gave up seven hits, three walks and only one earned run.

Coming-With their first-round win over Hoisington, the Trojans are scheduled to play in the semifinals today against No. 1 seeded Lyons at 1 p.m. at Southeast of Saline near Gypsum.

If the Trojans win that game, they will play for the right to return to state competition in Manhattan against the winner of Wednesday’s other semifinal game between No. 2 Southeast of Saline and No. 3 Beloit.

The championship game is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, at Southeast.

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