ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Hillsboro ace Jerod Metcalf surrendered nine hits but still won the war as he and his teammates held off a young Buhler squad, 6-2, for a sweep of their doubleheader Thursday at Tabor Field.
Hillsboro won the first game by run rule, 14-6, in the fifth inning. The two wins gave the team a 4-0 week and pushed its season record to 7-1.
Metcalf (2-0) was hit unusually hard and often, particularly in the early innings. The 16-and-under squad from Buhler scored a run in the first inning on two doubles, and Metcalf escaped a bases-loaded jam in the second after giving up two singles and a walk.
Meanwhile, Hillsboro scored early against Buhler’s soft-throwing Aaron Smucker but never dominated.
In the first inning, the home team scored twice on singles by Robert Verbic, Metcalf and Graham Ratzlaff, and then scored two more in the second on a double by Ben Walker, singles by Brian Thiessen and Metcalf, and a ground-out RBI by Verbic.
Buhler scored a run with the help of an error in the third to cut the lead to 4-2. Hillsboro came back in the bottom of the inning with a leadoff triple by Andy Brubacher, who scored on a wild pitch by Caley Ediger. Ediger had relieved Smucker earlier in the inning.
Hillsboro didn’t score again until the sixth inning, when Metcalf reached on an error, went to second on a wild pitch, and then scored on a single by Ratzlaff.
Metcalf, who gave up six hits in the first three innings, grew more effective as the game progressed. He struck out four and walked only one over seven innings.
In the first game, Hillsboro exploded for six runs in the bottom of the fourth to break open a 7-5 game. Kris Jones whacked a two-run home run and Metcalf added a two-run double to fuel the attack.
The home team appeared to take command in the third inning, though, when it scored six runs on four hits-including consecutive doubles by Hughbanks, Metcalf and Jones-to take a 7-2 advantage.
But Buhler came back in the top of the fourth with three runs on three hits against Jones (2-0), who started the game for Hillsboro. Hughbanks relieved him with nobody out, shut down the rally and went on to earn his second save of the season.
Jones’ home run almost overshadowed a great offensive contribution from Metcalf, who finished with two doubles in three official at-bats, driving in five runs and scoring twice.
Hillsboro managed only two hits the entire game, but still scratched out a 4-3 victory to sweep a twinbill from Lyons June 18 at Tabor Field.
Post 366 won the first game by run rule, 9-1, in the sixth inning.
Game 2 turned into a pitching duel between Robert Verbic (2-0), who went the full seven innings for Hillsboro, and Lyons’ Zach Dobbins and Anthony Martinez.
Lyons broke a scoreless tie in the second inning when second baseman Shawn Hughbanks couldn’t handle a toss from shortstop Dustin Jost that would have forced the third out. Torrey Lattin, who had singled earlier in the inning, scored on the play.
But Hughbanks redeemed himself in the third inning with a two-out triple that drove in Kris Jones, who had doubled, and Todd Stahlecker, who had walked. Hughbanks then scored on a wild pitch to give Hillsboro a 3-1 lead.
After Lyons picked up a run in the fourth, Hillsboro countered in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, Dobbins walked Jost, hit Stahlecker with a pitch, then walked Hughbanks to load the bases.
Martinez relieved Dobbins, but his first pitch slipped past the catcher, enabling Jost to score.
Lyons touched Verbic for a run in the top of the seventh, but the Marion right-hander hung on for the win. He finished with a six-hitter and struck out nine.
In the first game, Lyons lefty Will Godfrey didn’t have a lot of mustard on his pitches, but kept Hillsboro hitters off balance through five innings.
Hillsboro led 5-1 at that point, but had to scratch and claw for every run.
With the help of three walks, Hillsboro scored three times in the first inning on only two hits to take a 3-1 lead. Curtis Gutsch and Hughbanks contributed RBI singles.
That score stood until the fifth, when Hillsboro added two runs on an error, a triple by Stahlecker, and a ground-out RBI by Gutsch.
Hillsboro nailed Lyons in the sixth. Lattin took the mound to start the inning and gave up consecutive singles to Hughbanks, Jared Fish, Graham Ratzlaff, Ben Walker and Dustin Jost to make the score 7-1 with no one out.
After Stahlecker popped out, Gutsch ended the game with a two-run ground single to center that scored Ratzlaff and Walker.
Gutsch finished with three hits in four at-bats and drove in four runs.
Steven Chisholm (2-0) threw the first four innings for Hillsboro to pick up his second win of the season. The right-hander gave up only two hits, struck out four and walked three.
Jerod Metcalf relieved Chisholm with no one out in the fifth and shut out Lyons on two hits the rest of the way to pick up a save.
Coming-Yesterday, Post 366 was to begin a busy week that, weather permitting, will see the team play eight games in eight days.
Hillsboro was scheduled to play two against Council Grove on Tuesday. On Thursday, Hillsboro will play host to Lindsborg for a doubleheader that will begin at 6 p.m.
On Sunday, Post 366 travels to Marion to make up a doubleheader with the Babe Ruth team that was washed out earlier in the month. Those games will begin at 6 p.m.
Finally, next Tuesday, Hillsboro will play host to Buhler for a doubleheader starting at 6 p.m. at Tabor Field.