ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
After dropping a game early in the second round, Hillsboro clawed its way into the finals of the double-elimination Babe Ruth zone tournament in Council Grove Monday night against the undefeated home team.
Unfortunately, Council Grove prevailed, 5-1, to end Hillsboro’s season at 18-11.
Mitch Enos gave up a run in the first and four more in the fifth to take the loss for Hillsboro. He gave up only four hits.
Hillsboro batters managed only four hits, and finally scored in the seventh when Jimmy Shipman led off with a double, went to third on an error and scored on a sacrfice fly by Marsh.
Following is a game-by-game account of Hillsboro’s tournament experience.
Game 1 vs. Moundridge-Hillsboro opened District 4 play July 14 with a 10-0 win over Moundridge behind Mitch Enos’ six-hit shutout.
Hillsboro scored in the first when Jared Fish singled and came in on a sacrifice fly by Enos.
Hillsboro blew the game open in the second inning with eight runs on six hits to go with three Moundridge errors. Fish, Shawn Hughbanks, Jimmy Shipman and Chad Hughbanks all singled in the inning while Enos belted a double.
Hillsboro (15-9) ended the game via the 10-run rule in the sixth inning when Enos singled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Caleb Marsh for the 10-0 victory.
Game 2 vs. Peabody-Riding a 10-game winning streak, Hillsboro took on intra-county foe Peabody in the second round.
Hillsboro seemed to be headed to an easy victory, but eventually blew a five-run lead and lost, 6-5.
Hillsboro jumped on Peabody starter Michael Unruh for five runs in the second inning.
Kyle Jilka singled, stole second, moved to third on a Chad Hughbank’s sacrifice, and scored on a throwing error to stake Hillsboro to a 1-0 lead.
Steven Chisholm drew a one-out walk, stole second and third, then scored on a single by Tyler Goldsby to put Hillsboro on top, 2-0.
Jared Fish singled before Shawn Hughbanks hit a towering sacrifice fly to chase home Goldsby for a 3-0 advantage. Mitch Enos drove in Fish with a single to bump the lead to 4-0.
Hillsboro rounded out its burst when Jimmy Shipman doubled off the right fielder’s glove to drive home Enos and give Hillsboro a comfortable 5-0 advantage.
Peabody cracked its goose egg in the bottom of the inning when Phillip Unruh crushed a Shipman pitch over the left-field fence to make the score 5-1.
That’s the way score stayed until the bottom of the fourth, when Shipman literally lost control, walking four of the first six batters and surrendering a two-run single and a two-run double.
With the game knotted at 5, Chisholm took over on the mound for Hillsboro. But he was the victim of bad luck as a looping single eluded the outstretched arms of Adam Scheele at first base to put Peabody on top 6-5.
Peabody then called upon the hard-throwing Unruh to stifle Hillsboro’s bats. He worked three innings, allowed no hits and struck out seven to preserve the win.
Shipman took the loss. The right-hander gave up three hits, walked four and struck out five.
Hillsboro collected just six hits in the loss that snapped its win streak and sent the team into the losers’ bracket.
Game 3 vs. Abilene-Looking to keep his team alive in the losers’ bracket, Hillsboro ace Mitch Enos pitched his teammates to a 5-1 victory over the Abilene Outlaws on Saturday afternoon.
Hillsboro jumped on top 1-0 in the first when Jared Fish reached on an Abilene throwing error and came around to score one out later on a ground out by Enos.
After Abilene tied the score in the bottom of the inning on a single, error and sacrifice fly, Hillsboro regained the lead in the third.
Fish singled with one out and moved to second when the Outlaw center fielder booted the ball. After moving to third on a ground out by Shawn Hughbanks, Fish scored when Abilene mishandled a ball off the bat of Enos to give Hillsboro a 2-1 lead.
In the fourth inning, Kyle Jilka reached on an error and moved to third when Abilene misplayed a bunt by Caleb Marsh, putting runners on first and third. A ground out by Chad Hughbanks chased home Jilka for a 3-1 lead.
Hillsboro added two insurance runs in the sixth, which included a bizarre play.
Jilka led off with a single and moved to second on an error by the right fielder. Marsh laid down a perfect bunt, which turned into an infield single to put runners at the corners.
After Marsh stole second base, Abilene pitcher Justin Schuster was called for a balk, sending Jilka home to give Hillsboro a 4-1 lead.
But Abilene vehemently protested the call, eventually stirring the ire of the Outlaw fans, one of which was ejected from the game. Before action could resume, the ejected fan threatened the first-base umpire, prompting a call for police protection.
After peace was restored, Marsh stole third base and later scored on another Abilene error to make the score 5-1.
Enos held the Outlaws to just one hit in seven innings to earn the win. Hillsboro (15-10) managed just four hits in the contest.
Game 4 vs. McPherson-With temperatures soaring early Sunday afternoon, Hillsboro continued its quest for the state tournament by beating McPherson, 16-4.
McPherson had defeated Hillsboro in four of six games this season.
Jared Fish struck out to begin the game, but reached base when the catcher mishandled the pitch. He then scored on a wild pitch to put Hillsboro on top, 1-0.
After McPherson tied the game in the bottom of the inning, Hillsboro scored two runs in the third when March doubled and scored on a suicide-squeeze bunt by Steven Chisholm.
Chisholm then scored on the back end of a double steal for the two-run lead.
McPherson battled back with three runs in the bottom of the third, courtesy of shoddy Hillsboro fielding and a blinding sun.
With Caleb Marsh on the mound, McPherson took advantage of a hit batter, two walks and a single before Marsh was replaced by Jimmy Shipman.
Two sunshine pop outs that dropped to the ground staked McPherson to a 4-3 lead.
The score remained unchanged until the top of the sixth, when the Hillsboro bats came alive.
Marsh led off with a blast over the right field fence to tie the game at 4. Seven hits later, Hillsboro was on top 10-4.
Key to the inning was a two-run double by Mitch Enos and run-scoring singles by Tyler Goldsby, Kyle Jilka and Marsh.
Hillsboro got insurance in the seventh inning when they scored six more runs. Four hits, two hit batters, two walks, and a McPherson error fueled the rally.
Shipman got the win in relief as Hillsboro (17-10) smashed McPherson pitching for 19 hits.
Game 5 vs. Peabody-Facing a team Hillsboro felt it should have defeated three nights earlier, Post 366 captured an 8-1 victory Sunday afternoon to move into the finals Monday evening against the host Council Grove squad.
Peabody got on the board first on Cody Weerts’ single and walks to Joshua Church and Phillip Unruh.
In the second inning, Hillsboro got to Church, who started for Peabody, when Kyle Jilka doubled to lead off and moved to third on a ground out by Caleb Marsh.
Jilka scored when the next batter, Chad Hughbanks, doubled. Hughbanks scored when Steven Chisholm singled.
Chisholm stole second and third before scoring on a single by Jared Fish, who scored the inning’s final run on a single by Shawn Hughbanks for a 4-1 Hillsboro lead.
Chad Hughbanks was solid on the mound for Hillsboro as he and winning pitcher Chisholm combined to thwart any further scoring by Peabody.
Hillsboro added to its 4-1 lead in the third inning when Jilka walked and scored on a single by Chad Hughbanks.
Hillsboro rounded out its scoring in the fifth when Marsh doubled with one out, Chad Hughbanks walked, and Chisholm drove Marsh and Hughbanks home with a hit.
Chisholm eventually scored the game’s eighth run on a sacrifice fly by Justin Moore for the 8-1 win.
Hughbanks got the victory as Hillsboro (18-10) pounded out nine hits.