American Legion Post 366 earns four-game split

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Even as the winds of a strong cold front swept through central Kansas Thursday night, Hillsboro American Legion Post 366 blew into Galva and swept a pair of baseball games against the team, 12-0 and 6-5.

Changing its pattern from previous games, Hillsboro jumped on top early. In the top of the second inning, Kyle Jilka led off with a single, stole second and scored on a double by Jimmy Shipman.

Following a Clayton Garnica single, Shipman scored on a single by Tyson Heidebrecht. Garnica scored after stealing second and scoring on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Goldsby.

Hillsboro manufactured a run in the third inning when Caleb Marsh singled, stole both second and third base and scored on a throwing error to go up 4-0.

Hillsboro broke things open by scoring eight runs in the fourth on six hits, two Galva errors, one walk and two Hillsboro batters hit by errant pitches.

Driving in runs were Marsh, Mitch Enos, Shipman, Garnica and two by Goldsby.

Leading 12-0, starter Chad Hughbanks cruised to the victory, allowing just four hits, walking two, striking out two, and hitting two batters for the run-rule win.

“Chad pitched a very good game for us,” coach Lyman Adams said. “He battled out of a couple of tough situations and it was good to see him go the complete five innings for us.”

Hillsboro amassed 12 hits in the contest.

“I think this past week the boys are starting to swing the bat a little bit better,” Adams said. “We’re starting to hit the ball a little squarer and that’s making a lot of difference for us.”

In Game 2, Hillsboro returned to form by jumping to an early 2-0 lead. Jilka led off the second inning with a walk, stole second base and scored on a throwing error on a ball hit by Shipman.

Shipman scored on a ground ball to second by Garnica.

Starting pitcher Heidebrecht walked the bases full in the second, but also struck out the side to preserve Hillsboro’s 2-0 lead.

In the top of the third inning, Justin Moore reached via a walk. Marsh grounded to third, but the throw to first was wild, allowing Moore to scamper to third and Marsh to second.

Jared Fish drove in both runners with a single over the outstretched glove of the second baseman to push the lead to 4-0.

Hillsboro added what proved to be an important run in the top of the fifth.

Marsh drew a one-out walk, stole second, moved to third on a infield single by Fish, and scored on an sacrifice fly by Enos.

Things began to unravel for Heidebrecht in the bottom of the fifth. Two walks and a hit batter loaded the bases before another walk drove home Galva’s first run.

Adams then brought in Enos to relieve Heidebrecht, who left the game with four innings of no-hit baseball. But he also issued eight walks while striking out seven hitters.

“Tyson hadn’t pitched all summer and his control wasn’t as sharp as you’d like to have it,” Adams said. “But at the same time he was still effective getting people out. He gave us four good innings.”

Enos was greeted with a two-run single; a sacrifice fly cut the margin to 5-4. A roller to first base brought home Galva’s fifth run of the inning before the rally was extinguished.

Hillsboro regained the lead in the seventh when Goldsby drew a lead-off walk, stole second and scored on a single by Marsh.

Needing just three outs for the victory, Enos surrendered a lead-off single. Galva’s next hitter reached on an error.

But a bizarre play snuffed out the potential rally. Enos delivered a pitch to home that rolled a short distance from Goldsby. The runner on first ran for second base, which was already occupied.

Goldsby’s throw created a rundown that eliminated the first-base runner. For whatever reason, the runner on second base stepped off the base and was tagged out by Heidebrecht for a strange double play.

Enos walked the next two hitters before inducing the final hitter to fly out to center field, preserving Hillsboro’s 6-5 win.

Enos earned the victory for Hillsboro, allowing two hits in three innings of work while striking out four.

“We don’t do anything easy,” Adams said. “The last four games we’re starting to see the guys hitting better so I feel optimistic we’re going to be where we want to be before the end of the season.”

Hillsboro bats produced just five hits in the game.

With the victory, Hillsboro moved its record to 7-9 for the season.

McPherson-Hillsboro lost a pair of games to McPherson last Tuesday, 11-6 and 14-10 in eight innings.

In the opener, the game went sour from the beginning for pitching ace Mitch Enos and his teammates.

After retiring the lead off hitter, Enos issued consecutive walks as a prelude to a three-run home run by Justin Loeker.

Loeker proved to be a thorn in Hillsboro’s side all night.

McPherson expanded its 3-0 lead in the second inning. A lead off-single followed by a fielder’s choice put runners on first and third base. After a run scored on a wild pitch, Enos surrendered a double that made the score 5-0. Andrew Loeker’s single pushed the lead to 6-0.

Justin Loeker continued his hot hitting with another home run to give McPherson an 8-0 cushion.

Hillsboro finally broke through against McPherson starter Andrew Loeker in the bottom of the fourth.

Enos led off with a walk and stole second base. After Kyle Jilka walked, Jimmy Shipman singled in Enos. A ground out by Clayton Garnica drove home Jilka to slice the lead to 8-2.

Adam Scheele replaced Enos on the mound and held McPherson at bay, allowing Hillsboro to inch even closer.

An error on a ball hit by Tyler Goldsby opened the door for Hillsboro. After Caleb Marsh drew a walk and Chad Hughbanks reached on a fielder’s choice, Jared Fish singled Goldsby home to cut the lead to 8-3.

A ground out by Enos drove Marsh home. Then Tyson Heidebrecht hit a squibber that eluded the McPherson first baseman, allowing Fish to score and cut the lead to 8-5.

Shipman continued his hot streak by driving home Enos to pull Hillsboro within two runs.

But the rally stalled-not only in the inning, but for the rest of the game. McPherson added one insurance run in the sixth and two more in the seventh to win the opener. 11-6.

In Game 2, McPherson jumped on top 3-0 in the first inning against Hillsboro starter Marsh.

But Hillsboro showed resilience by scoring in its half of the first inning off starter Austin Pfannenstiel.

Marsh singled to lead off, stole second and third, and scored on a wild pitch to cut the lead to 3-1.

Hughbanks drew a walk, stole second and scored on consecutive wild pitches to make it 3-2.

McPherson extended its lead in the top of the third inning when Travis Schafer singled to lead off and moved to third on an errant throw. Schafer scored one out later on a single by Nowak to extend Mac’s lead to 4-2.

Hillsboro got its offense cranked in the bottom of the fourth to take a brief lead.

Fish and Enos led off with back to back singles. When McPherson mishandled the relay throw, Fish scored and Enos wound up on third base. He scored on a double-steal attempt with Jilka walked, who had walked.

After Shipman walked, Heidebrecht bunted to score Jilka and give Hillsboro a 5-4 lead.

McPherson tied the contest in the top of the fifth on a walk and a single from Andrew Loeker.

But Hillsboro answered in the home half of the inning. Justin Moore was hit by a pitch to lead off, Goldsby followed with a bunt single that the catcher threw into right field. Moore scored and Goldsby advanced to third.

Goldsby scored on a passed ball to put Hillsboro on top 7-5.

Marsh made the lead stand until the seventh, when a lead-off fly ball dropped in front of Steven Chisholm. After Andrew Loeker walked, Justin Loeker pounded a 1-2 pitch off the wall in center field to tie the game at 7.

Hillsboro squandered a lead-off double in the bottom of the seventh and the game went to extra innings.

McPherson took over as Chisholm, in relief of Marsh, allowed five walks and four singles. Two Hillsboro fielding errors contributed to a 14-7 McPherson lead.

Hillsboro managed three runs in the home half of the inning on run-scoring hits by Enos, Shipman and Heidebrecht, but it wasn’t enough as McPherson went home with the 14-10 win.

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