ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Hillsboro exploded for 13 runs in its last at-bat to take a 17-12 win and a split of its season-opening doubleheader Friday with Marion.
The Warriors won the opener, 12-5, behind the pitching of Jimmy Shipman.
In Game 2, Marion had built a seemingly safe 12-4 lead through six innings on the strength of seven hits, eight walks and one hit batter.
The Warriors scored three runs in both the first and second innings, added two in the third inning and then tacked on four more in the sixth.
Hillsboro, meanwhile, had managed only four hits going into the seventh.
But the Trojans slapped out eight hits in their final at-bat, including doubles by Chad Hughbanks, Adam Scheele, Michael Bookless and Justin Moore and a triple by Tyler Goldsby. Hillsboro also drew three walks.
“The late rally in Game 2 might have been the most fun I have had in high school baseball,” Hillsboro coach Dustin McEwen said. “Thirteen runs in one inning was fun to watch. It demonstrated to our kids that we should never give up on a game and that attitude is a big part of the game.
“I think it will help us to go into our next game with more belief in our abilities.”
Bookless (1-0) picked up the win for Hillsboro. The senior pitched the final 22/3 innings in relief of Fish and allowed four runs on three hits and two walks. He struck out six batters.
In his 41/3 innings on the mound, Fish allowed eight runs-six of them earned-on four hits and six walks. He also struck out six Warriors.
In Game 1, Shipman kept the Trojans in check while his Warrior teammates broke through with a six-run second inning against Trojan starter Chad Hughbanks.
Hillsboro was leading, 1-0, going into the inning on a base hit by Scheele, who eventually scored on a single by Michael Bookless.
But in Marion’s half of the inning, Neil Waner walked with one out, Tyson Heidebrecht doubled and Josh Kelsey reached on an error, allowing Waner score. After Hughbanks struck out Clayton Garnica, Jeff Richmond doubled, driving in Kelsey and Waner.
Richmond scored on a passed ball as did DeForest after reaching on a single. Marion’s final run of the inning was scored by Tyler Stubenhofer, who walked and eventually scored on a throwing error.
Scheele scored again in the top of the third. He hit a two-out triple and then scored on a fielding error on a ball hit by Brandon Moss.
The Trojans pulled to within a run of Marion at 6-5 with more runs in the top of the fourth. Jared Fish reached on an error, advanced on a single by Goldsby and then scored on a passed ball. Hughbanks walked, then stole second. Goldsby and Hughbanks then scored on a single by Scheele.
But the Warriors pulled away from Hillsboro with four runs in the bottom of the fourth. Richmond and DeForest reached on Trojan errors to start the innings. Hughbanks retired the next two batters, but Shipman, Waner and Heidebrecht followed with back-to-back singles for the four runs.
The Warriors added two more runs in the sixth with Waner’s two-run double being the big hit of the inning.
Shipman (1-0) picked up the win, allowing seven hits and four walks while striking out seven.
Hughbanks took the loss for Hillsboro, giving up 10 runs-five of them earned-in five innings. Sheele threw one inning in relief, giving up two runs on only one hit, but walking four batters.
On the offensive side, Scheele had huge varsity debut, banging out six hits-including a double and a triple-and driving in five runs in nine at-bats.
“Scheele had a fantastic night at the plate,” McEwen said. “He really hit the ball well.”
Fish contributed four hits in nine at-bats while Bookless and Moore each added three, including a double.
David DeForest went 4-for-10 and Shipman went 3-for-8 top pace the Warriors.
McEwen said even though his young team gave up 24 runs in two games, he saw some things he liked.
“I liked that we competed hard and continued to get better as the night progressed,” he said. “We were definitely nervous and timid in Game 1 and part of Game 2. Confidence in our team and each player’s individual talents will come as we get more experienced.
“The inexperience came through with some decisions that we made running bases, missing some signs and making some throwing and fielding errors. I felt the night gave us a good base on which to proceed with practice to be better the next outing.”
With almost no varsity experience returning, pitching was McEwen’s biggest question mark coming into the season.
“The pitchers did an adequate job,” he said. “Hughbanks, Scheele, Fish and Bookless all basically saw their first varsity action and each responded well.
“As a team, we made it tougher on them by the number of errors we committed. Each error causes the pitcher to have to throw for another out.”
Goldsby caught both games for the Trojans.
“For his first varsity action at catcher, Goldsby did a nice job,” McEwen said. “He improved as the night went along. He threw some opponents out on the base paths and really worked hard behind the plate.”
Coming-The Trojans were scheduled to play Tuesday at Wichita Collegiate. A report of that game will appear in the Free Press Extra, on newsstands Thursday late afternoon.
On Thursday, Hillsboro will face Nickerson in the Trojans’ home opener. The first game of the twinbill will start at 4:30 p.m. at the Sports Complex.
The following Tuesday, Hesston comes to the Sports Complex for a doubleheader with a 4:30 p.m. start.
Marion, meanwhile, will play host to Wichita Independent on Thursday. Council Grove comes to town the following Tuesday. Game time on both days is 4:30 p.m.