ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
It was a long time coming, but the Hillsboro baseball team finally experienced the thrill of victory with a 6-5 win over Nickerson in the second game of their doubleheader on Friday at Memorial Field.
In fact, the Trojans almost doubled their pleasure, losing the first game 10-8 in extra innings after an eight-run burst in the fourth inning had given them an 8-4 lead.
The split give the Trojans a 1-9 record for the season.
“With each doubleheader, the guys are getting a little better,” coach Tyler Marsh said. “On Friday, I saw what I want to see from them. Our pitchers threw strikes and hit their spots defensively. We had only one error on the day and we had three of our outfielders make nice, diving grabs. So guys were being aggressive.”
In Game 1, Nickerson got off to a 3-0 lead through 21/2 innings off starter Justin Moore. But the Trojans got on the board with a single run in the bottom of the third on a base hit by Jesse Boucher, a Nickerson error and a single by Chad Hughbanks.
After Nickerson came back with a run in the fourth, the Trojans exploded for eight runs in their next at-bat. Adam Scheele belted a home run and Justin Moore, Aaron Stepanek, R.J. Toal and Hughbanks each contributed singles to the uprising.
But Hillsboro could not muster a score-or even a hit-after that. Meanwhile, Nickerson chipped away at the lead with three runs in the fifth to pull within one, a single run in the sixth to tie the score and then two in the first extra inning to nail down the victory.
In Game 2, though, Hillsboro scored in every inning except one. The Trojans scored once in each of the first three innings and two runs in the fourth to take a 5-1 lead.
Nickerson closed the gap to 5-4 with three runs in the fifth inning, and tied the game with a run in the top of the sixth.
But the Trojans scored what proved to be the winning run in the bottom of the inning when John Vineski led off with a single, Scheele sacrificed him to second and, after Lucas Hamm grounded out, Tyler Goldsby singled Vineski home.
Goldsby slapped out four hits in four at-bats to pace the Trojans at the plate. Pitchers Hughbanks and Scheele combined for the six-hit victory.
Marsh said he feels his team is beginning to find itself.
“I don’t know if these guys are starting to get a little more comfortable, or starting to get into the flow of things, but they played really well on Friday,” he said.
He said their games at Marion on Tuesday-especially Game 2, in which Trojans took an early lead-seem to have set them on a good path.
“We were close in the second game and had a little more emotion in it,” he said. “Now we’re starting to get to the point where we have quick innings-which keeps guys in the ball game. We’re starting to play well and starting to do the things that baseball teams should do.
“So it is nice that they’re starting to see that what we do in practice is starting to pay off for us in the games,” he said.
“The guys are excited, they’re starting to enjoy themselves-and when they enjoy themselves it allows them to play a little looser, which allows them to play better. So it all comes full circle.”
Coming-The Trojans were scheduled to face Smoky Valley on Tuesday at Lindsborg. On Friday, they return home to play host to state-ranked Wichita Collegiate. The doubleheader begins at 4:30 p.m. at Memorial Field.