Legion Post 366 opens with sweep of Peabody

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Although rain forced the Hillsboro American Legion Post 366 Babe Ruth baseball team to delay opening its season by two days, the wait proved to be worthwhile.

The local team overpowered Peabody, 20-3 and 14-6 Thursday at Memorial Field.

“It was a very positive start for us,” coach Lyman Adams said. “We had good hitting and good pitching. It sure gets us off to a better start than we had last year, that’s for sure.”

In the opener, left-hander Adam Scheele allowed only three hits while walking four and striking out five in five innings.

“Adam pitched a good game,” Adams said. “The boys have had long layoffs since spring ball, so you never know quite what you’re going to get. But Scheele set the tone for our entire evening with his strong pitching performance.”

After Scheele worked a 1-2-3 first inning, Hillsboro wasted no time getting to Peabody starter Ben Eldridge.

Base hits by Clayton Garnica, Justin Moore, Scheele and Daniel Berg, combined with walks to Chad Hughbanks and Travis Riesen, resulted in six runs.

In the top of the second, Scheele surrendered a lead-off opposite-field home run to Aaron Burnett to cut the lead to 6-1.

But Hillsboro went back to work in the home half of the inning, scoring three runs without a base hit.

Eldridge walked two batters and hit Scheele before Peabody coach John Richstatter replaced him with with Zan Fine.

Already leading 9-1, Hillsboro added four more runs in the third inning when Moore doubled Hughbanks home and scored on Scheele’s single.

Three errors contributed to the scoring, which was capped by a run-scoring single by Dustin Burnett to make the score 13-1.

Hillsboro wrapped up its scoring in the fourth when 11 batters strode to the plate resulting in five base hits, a walk and three Peabody errors.

Hughbanks led off with a single and topped it off with a two-run double as the team batted around to make the score 20-1.

Peabody scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth on two walks, a hit batter and a two-run single, but the game ended after five innings due to the run rule.

In Game 2, Travis Riesen squared off with Peabody’s Chase Williams in what started as a pitching duel.

Hillsboro took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a single by Aaron Stepanek and a triple by Garnica.

But Peabody answered with a run in the second inning when Aaron Burnett singled and later scored on a Todd Woodruff single. Woodruff eventually scored on a wild pitch to give Peabody its first lead of the night, 2-1.

Hillsboro responded with a run in the second inning when Scheele walked with one out, stole second and scored when Peabody misplayed a ball off the bat of Daniel Berg.

A Hillsboro error, a passed ball and a Williams single gave Peabody the lead again in the third inning. Hillsboro tied the score in the bottom of the inning when with one out, Stepanek was hit by a pitch, stole second and scored on a Hughbanks double.

But Peabody countered with two runs in the fourth inning without a base hit, thanks to three Hillsboro errors, to put Peabody on top 5-3.

The score remained that way until the fifth when Hillsboro erupted for six runs to take a 9-5 lead.

Singles by Stepanek, Dustin Burnett and Riesen and a double by Moore set the table for a three-run home run to dead center by Scheele.

“That’s probably one of the hardest hit balls I’ve ever seen at this level,” Adams said of the blast. “As they say, he got it all.”

Aaron Burnett reached on an error and eventually scored in the top of the sixth to cut the lead to 9-6, but Hillsboro added five runs in the bottom of the inning for the 14-6 lead. Hughbanks’ two-run triple was the big blow.

Riesen struck out the side in the seventh inning to end the game and give him 14 strikeouts for the evening.

“Travis pitched a whale of a game,” Adams said. “He really went after their hitters.”

With the win, Post 366 opens at 2-0 with games at Peabody on Tuesday and at Hesston on Wednesday of this week.

“It was a very positive start for us,” Adams said. “I knew we had some good quality kids and some good players.

“And our young players who are playing at this level for the first time learned you have to be aggressive at the plate.”

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