ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Hillsboro American Legion Post 366 swept a pair of games from Herington Thursday night at Memorial Field, 14-0 and 15-11.
In the opener, Michael Bookless benefitted from a potent Hillsboro offense that pounded out eight base hits in four innings.
Chad Hughbanks walked and eventually scored in the first inning to hand Hillsboro a lead it would possess until the end.
Post 366 added three runs in the second inning as Lucas Hamm singled, Aaron Stepanek reached on an error and Alex Nuss was plunked by a pitch to load the bases.
Hamm came home on a wild pitch before Tyler Goldsby delivered a two-run single to make the score 4-0.
Hillsboro ended any suspense about the outcome in the third inning when it sent 15 batters to the plate and scored 10 runs. Herington pitching contributed five walks to the cause.
Clayton Garnica drove in two in the inning while Daniel Berg, Nuss, Aaron Burnett, Derek Hamm and Kyle Jilka drove in one apiece.
Bookless (1-3) picked up the victory, allowing just four hits in four innings.
Derek Hamm got the starting nod in Game 2 and promptly gave up two runs on two base hits in the opening inning.
But Hillsboro’s offense picked up where it left off in the opener, sending 16 batters to the plate to register its second 10-run inning of the night and a 10-2 lead.
In the inning, Hillsboro had only three base hits coupled with seven walks, one hit batter and three Herington errors.
Berg had the big hit of the inning, narrowly missing a grand slam home run. He settled for a ground-rule double to chase in a pair of runs, while Burnett, Garnica, Stepanek and Hughbanks drove in one run each.
Herington chipped into the lead in the third inning with four runs on three hits to cut the lead to 10-6.
The game grew even tighter in the fourth when Herington added a pair of runs on two hits, a walk and a hit batter to slice the lead to 10-8.
A four-run fourth inning by Hillsboro determined the outcome.
Burnett reached on an error and scored on a wild pitch, Goldsby walked and scored on a throwing error, and Alfonse Klenda drove in a run on a fielder’s choice.
Leading 14-8, Hillsboro added one run in the sixth when Goldsby drew a lead-off walk and scored on a Bookless single.
Herington scored three runs in the seventh on a single, walk and two errors, but Hillsboro finally retired the side while still on top, 15-11.
Derek Hamm (2-2) got the win as Hillsboro extended its winning streak to a season-long three games and improved to 5-12.
McPherson-American Legion Post 366 did a fine Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde impression Tuesday, splitting a doubleheader at home with McPherson.
Hillsboro flailed its way to a 14-1 loss in the opener, but bounced back in the second game with a 14-11 victory.
Clayton Garnica was the starter in Game 1 for Post 366, but the left-hander encountered trouble almost from the opening pitch.
Consecutive walks coupled with a hit batter loaded the bases for McPherson to begin the game.
Another walk drove in the first run before a 2-run single and a throwing error gave McPherson a 4-0 lead.
Another walk and error set the table for a run-scoring double and McPherson took a 6-0 lead after one half inning.
After Hillsboro failed to score in its first at-bat, McPherson added five runs in the second inning on five base hits, two walks, a hit batter and two more errors.
Trailing 13-0, Hillsboro broke the shutout in the third inning. Aaron Stepanek and Tyler Goldsby singled and Stepanek eventually scored on a ground out by Chad Hughbanks.
Facing relief pitcher Justin Moore, McPherson added a single run in the fourth inning and finished the run-rule-shortened game in four innings, 14-1.
Garnica (0-2) took the loss as Hillsboro managed only five hits.
In Game 2, Hughbanks started on the mound for Hillsboro, hoping to survive the heat and snap a four-game team losing streak.
After Hughbanks shut McPherson down in the first, the Hillsboro bats went to work in the home half of the inning.
With one out, Jared Fish singled and stole second base before scoring on a Hughbanks single for a 1-0 lead.
After Hughbanks advanced to third base on consecutive wild pitches, Kyle Jilka drove in a run with a ground out to shortstop for a 2-0 lead after one inning.
But Post 366 gave up another big inning in the second when McPherson countered with six runs on five hits, including a pair of two-run doubles. Hillsboro contributed three errors to the uprising.
But the home team showed some resolve on this night, and battled back to tie the game at 6 in the bottom of the second.
Hillsboro loaded the bases with one-out walks to Stepanek and Moore and a pitch that hit Alfonse Klenda.
Post 366 then scored runs on a single by Lucas Hamm, a walk to Goldsby, a ground out by Fish and a solid single by Hughbanks.
Hillsboro took a 7-6 lead in the bottom of the third inning when Derek Hamm singled, advanced to third on two wild pitches and scored on a sacrifice fly by Moore.
After McPherson tied the game at 7 in the fourth, Hillsboro answered with two more runs when Lucas Hamm walked, Fish singled and Kyle Jilka drove them in with a double.
Hillsboro expanded its lead to 14-7 in the fifth with RBIs coming from Lucas Hamm, Fish and two from Goldsby.
That’s the way it remained until the top of the seventh, when Hughbanks ran out of gas, walking the first two hitters in the inning.
Manager Lyman Adams called on Jilka to pitch, but McPherson scored four runs in the inning before Goldsby made a diving tag at home plate to end the game with Hillsboro on top 14-11.
Hughbanks (1-2) picked up the win for Hillsboro, allowing nine hits in six innings. Jilka recorded his first save of the season.
With the win, Hillsboro improved to 3-12 for the season.
Coming-Hillsboro was scheduled to host Moundridge on Tuesday before concluding its regular season at Herington on Wednesday.