Hillsboro goes 3-1 in back-to-back doubleheaders

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Hillsboro survived back-to-back doubleheaders this weekend by sweeping Lyons at home on Saturday after splitting with Smoky Valley in Lindsborg on Friday.

The 3-1 performance raised the Trojans’ season record to 12-6 going into Tuesday’s regular-season finale against Inman.

The 7-6, 9-5 sweep over their baseball rivals from Lyons was huge for Hillsboro. The outcome of both games may have hinged on a dramatic two-out, two-run home run by Kris Jones in the bottom of the seventh inning that tied the opener at 6-6.

Graham Ratzlaff, who was on board for Jones’ blast in the seventh, came up with a one-out bases-loaded bloop single in the eighth to drive in the winning run.

James Bina had broken a scoreless tie in the third inning with a solo home run, his ninth of the season. But in the top of the fourth, the Lions jumped on starter Dustin Jost for five runs on six hits, including back-to-back home runs by Wade Church and Will Godfrey.

The Trojans closed the gap to 5-2 in the bottom of the fourth on a solo blast by Jones.

Lyons’ Bryce Soeken pushed the margin back to four runs with a solo home run off reliever Steven Chisholm to start the fifth inning.

Hillsboro cut the lead to 6-4 in the bottom of the fifth on a solo blast by Andy Brubacher and then hits by Ratzlaff and Metcalf combined with two Lyons errors.

That set the stage for the dramatic seventh. Bina led off with a walk but was forced at second on a ground ball by Ratzlaff. After Metcalf struck out for the second out, Jones cranked a 3-1 pitch over the fence in left-center to tie the game.

After Chisholm muzzled the Lions in the top of the first extra inning, Jost led off the bottom of the eighth with a single and reached second on an error by the left-fielder.

Two outs later, Bina was intentionally walked to put runners on first and second. Ratzlaff then lofted a short fly near the right-field line that just eluded the outstretched glove of first baseman Godfrey.

By the time the Lions recovered the baseball, Jost was across the plate with the winning run.

Chisholm (4-0) ended up picking up the win with some fine work in relief. The senior gave up only one run on three hits over 42/3 innings. He stuck out three and walked no one.

The Trojans’ comeback in the opener seemed to take the steam out of the Lions in Game 2, even though the visitors took an early 2-0 lead in the second inning against starter Shawn Hughbanks.

But the Trojans came back with two runs of their own when Ratzlaff and Jones were hit by pitches in consecutive at-bats, then scored on singles by Metcalf and Jared Fish.

After Lyons went back up by a run in the top of the fourth, Hillsboro delivered the knockout punch in the bottom of the inning with a six-run burst. Metcalf set the tone with a one-out solo home run. Hughbanks and Ratzlaff each drove in a pair of runs with base hits, and Bina drove in one.

Hillsboro added a final run in the fifth inning and Lyons came back with two two-out runs in the seventh off reliever Metcalf, who finally got the last out on a fly to left.

Hughbanks (3-1) got the win, giving up three runs on five hits over four innings. He struck out four and walked three.

All of his walks came in consecutive at bats with two outs in the third inning to load the bases. But Hughbanks got out of the jam by striking out Godfrey.

Metcalf scattered three hits in three innings in relief. He struck out one Lion and walked no one.

Meanwhile, the two pitchers combined for five hits and five RBIs to pace the Trojans’ 12-hit attack.

Smoky Valley-Heartbreak turned to joy in the Trojans’ split at Lindsborg on Friday.

In the opener, the Trojans let a 4-0 first-inning lead slip through their fingers and ended up losing the contest, 10-9, on a walk-off home run by the Vikings’ Tanner Corwin in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Facing the 4-0 early deficit, Smoky Valley came back against starter Jerod Metcalf with two runs in the second, then roughed him up for five more in the fifth to take a 7-4 lead.

The Trojans rallied to take an 8-7 lead in the top of the sixth on two walks and four hits, including a two-run triple by James Bina.

Not to be outdone, the Vikings came right back in the bottom of the inning with two runs of their own to go on top, 9-8. Tim George tripled off Metcalf to drive in one run and then scored on a single.

But the Trojan pitcher came back with a triple of his own to lead off the seventh, then scored on a single by Ben Walker to tie the game.

Two extra innings later, Corwin ripped his heartbreaking blow over the left-field wall.

Metcalf (3-4) pitched all 81/3 innings, giving up nine hits in all while striking out five and walking one.

To their credit, the Trojans bounced back from disappointment in Game 2 with 10 hits in a convincing 16-5 romp.

Again, the Trojans scored four runs to start the game, and again let Smoky back into the game with five runs over the first two innings against starter Steven Chisholm.

But that’s where the similarities between the two games ended. Hillsboro scored four runs in the third inning and five more in the fourth to break open the second game at 13-5.

The Trojans added one more run in the fifth and two in the sixth to round out the scoring.

For the game, Hughbanks, Metcalf and Jones each drove in three runs for Hillsboro.

Meanwhile, Chisholm (3-0) survived his shaky start and ended up with a four-hitter. He struck out a season-high nine batters. The lanky right-hander walked four Vikings, but only two after the second inning.

Coming-The Trojans were scheduled to finish their regular-season schedule Tuesday at Inman. A full report of those games will appear in this week’s Free Press Extra, available late Thursday afternoon.

The Trojans will begin regional action Monday or Tuesday at Marion. Joining Hillsboro and Marion in the five-team field will be Bluestem, Osage City and Yates Center. Opponents and game times were not available at press time.

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