ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
by Don Ratzlaff
The Free Press
Hillsboro withstood a late Marion rally to beat the Warriors 12-7 and complete the doubleheader sweep Tuesday at Memorial Field.
After cruising to an 11-1 win in the opener, Hillsboro was in control with a 9-1 lead through four innings of Game 2. Pitcher Chad Hughbanks had allowed only one run and three hits to that point.
But Clayton Garnica, Todd Woodruff and David DeForest led off the fifth with a single, a walk and another single, respectively.
Hillsboro coach Phil Oelke then lifted Hughbanks for Jesse Boucher, who gave up a run-scoring single to Nathan Bishop. A wild pitch and passed ball resulted in two more runs to cut the lead to 9-4.
Hillsboro responded with one run in the bottom of the inning on a lead-off single by Boucher, who then stole second and eventually scored on a two-out single by Justin Moore.
But Marion continued its comeback in the sixth, scoring three more runs on a lead-off triple by Cody Weertz, a sacrifice fly by Calvin Jeffrey, a single by Garnica, a walk to Woodruff and another single by Bishop.
With the score 10-7, Hillsboro responded with two more runs in its half of the inning.
Aaron Stepanek led off with a triple down the right-field line and scored on a double by Lucas Hamm, who then scored on an error.
Daniel Jost, who relieved Boucher on the mound midway through the sixth, gave up a single and walk in the seventh, but struck out two on the way to thwarting Marion’s comeback and earning the save.
Hillsboro got off to a great start with seven runs in the first inning off of starting pitcher Woodruff, who hit two batters, walked three and gave up singles to Travis Riesen, Jost, Alex Nuss and Hughbanks before the inning was over.
Weerts started the second inning for Marion and went the rest of the way.
For Hillsboro, Hughbanks improved his record to 1-1. The senior, who gave up five hits and five walks in four complete innings, was charged with four runs, all earned. He struck out two Warriors.
In Game 1, Riesen limited Marion to two hits in the five-inning contest. He struck out seven batters, walked only one and gave up two hits to improve to 1-1.
“He wasn’t hitting his spots very well at all, but he forced the kids to compete at the plate and our defense helped him out,” Oelke said.
Riesen’s teammates scored at least once in every inning, but the Trojans blew the game open in the fourth with six runs to push the lead to 10-1. Riesen, Jost and Dustin Strunk all homered in the inning-Riesen and Jost for two runs each and Strunk for one.
Hillsboro finished with 10 hits off the combination of Aaron Burnett, who pitched the first 31⁄3 innings and was charged with seven runs in his first outing of the season, and Calvin Jeffrey, who finished up for Marion and was charged with the other four runs.
“We just came out flat in the first game,” Marion coach Shaun Craft said. “Aaron was throwing strikes, but it seemed like Hillsboro was really hitting the ball well and also hitting them where we weren’t.
“I thought we played a lot better in the second game, we just gave up too many runs in the first inning,” he added. “But we battled back and started hitting the ball well.”
Oelke was pleased his team earned its first doubleheader sweep since the 2004 season.
“We talked about the importance of sweeping some teams and not splitting,” he said. “We felt like this was an opportunity to do that and the kids came out and played hard.”