Post 366 sweeps District 4 tournament

Post 366?s Daniel Jost abruptly finds his path to the plate blocked by Salina catcher Cody Blaha. Hillsboro got by Salina in the end, winning the game 19-9. Monday?s win over Abilene secured the district title and stamped the team?s passport to the state tournament.

The Hillsboro Legion Post 366 baseball team beat Abilene for the sixth time this season Mon?day night in Marion. Playing for all the marbles in the Babe Ruth District 4 Tournament, Hillsboro edged the Rebels 15-11 to secure a state tournament berth.

Given the 5-0 mark Hillsboro had posted against Abilene during regular season play, victory on paper seemed like a foregone conclusion.

It probably seemed that way to Hesston and Salina, too, but the Rebels bounced both of them from the double elimination tournament Sunday night.

Hillsboro dropkicked Salina into the lower half of the bracket with a 19-9 win Friday, and handed Hesston 13-4 in the first game of Sunday?s triple header.

Hesston?Hillsboro jumped out to a 1-0 lead on an RBI single by Kyle Hannigan and never looked back. In the second inning, Daniel Jost knocked a 2-run single as part of a rally that multiplied the Post 366 lead to 7.

Hesston scored twice in the bottom of the third. A bases-loaded single by Hannigan made it 9-2, and Tyler Ediger drove in another to push the Hillsboro lead to eight.

Travis Riesen gunned down two overly ambitious baserunners in the fourth, the second of which required a spectacular block of a pitch in the dirt, a quick recovery, a deft pivot and a cannon-shot throw to third base.

Ediger started the game and threw 90 pitches before giving way to Isaac Leihy with a 10-3 lead and one out booked in the fifth. Leihy limited Hesston to one run on four hits the rest of the way.

Salina?Post 366 slogged through a slough of sloppy defense but applied enough pressure with timely hitting to climb out of the hole they dug with inadequate fielding during the second inning.

After three straight infield singles loaded the bases with no outs, starting pitcher Brian Fruechting induced a ground ball straight back to him that on another day would have turned into a 1-2-3 double play. But his throw to the plate sailed to the backstop, allowing two runs to score.

Another fielder?s choice grounder gave Salina the lead, and the Indians tacked on two more before Fruechting struck out Chris Hill and Scott Lyon to get out of the inning.

Post 366 got one back during the home half of the second, and blew the game open in the bottom of the third.

After Travis Riesen and Fruechting reached base via bean ball, Kyle Hannigan reached on an infield single. Riesen scored on a passed ball, and Isaac Leihy drove in Fruechting to knot the score.

A bunt single by Wil Case loaded the bases for Jake Liles. After Hannigan scored on a passed ball, Liles thumped a 2-run single. Helped by two Salina errors, Post 366 scored five more, widening the margin to an insurmountable 13-6.

The fourth inning was more of the same, as Salina closed to 13-9 and Hillsboro responded by capitalizing on some bad defense to score six more.

Fruechting had a 2-run single and Calvin Jeffrey drove in another. Three more runs scored on successive wild pitches, as Leihy drew a 4-pitch walk.

Jacob Edwards took the mound starting the top of the fifth and recorded a 1-2-3 inning to end the game on 10-run rule.

Coming?Hillsboro advances to the next round of tournament play, which begins Friday in Garden City.

A complete tournament schedule will be posted to the Free Press Web site as soon as the brackets are finalized.

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