HHS baseball off to surprising start

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Hillsboro survived a pair of late Marion rallies to sweep both ends of their doubleheader last Thursday at Marion.

The 6-5 and 6-3 victories improved the season record of a young Trojan squad to 4-2 while Marion slipped to 0-4.

?If anybody would have said we?d be 4-2 at this point in the year, I would have never believed that,? Hillsboro coach Phil Oelke said. ?I knew we could compete with Marion; I thought we matched up well with them.

?They were a team I thought we could split with, and I?d be happy. I never would have guessed we would split with Collegiate or Nickerson. To be at 4-2, I?m thrilled, quite honestly.?

In Game 1, Hillsboro was leading Marion 6-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh behind the pitching of Isaac Leihy (2-0), who had struck out seven Warriors through six innings.

But Leihy gave up a leadoff hits to Calvin Jeffery and Zan Fine. After Logan Richmond struck out, Brian Freuchting doubled, chasing Leihy from the mound.

Daniel Jost moved in from shortstop to relieve Leihy and Will Case slapped a two-run single and ended up on second, a mere 180 feet from a tie game.

But Jost dug deep and struck out Adam Maag and Chase Carlson to squelch the rally.

Hillsboro scored its runs with three-run innings in the third and fourth. A double by Jost, an error by Marion and singles by Aaron Bina and Leihy accounted for Hillsboro?s production in the third, while a walk to Devin Funk, a double by Jacob Edwards, singles by Jost and Ediger and a sacrifice fly by Bina resulted in three fourth-inning runs.

In Game 2, Hillsboro pushed a 3-1 lead in the seventh to 6-1 when Ediger, Bina, Leihy, Mitchell Koop and Chris Couts stroked consecutive singles.

In relief of Edwards, who pitched six strong innings, Jost came in to pitch the bottom of the seventh and gave up two runs on singles by Isaac Hett and Fine, a double by Richmond, a walk to Freuchting and a single by Case before getting Maag to fly out for the final out.

Jost, Bina, Leihy and Couts each stroked two hits in the game, with Couts each driving in a pair of runs.

Oelke said Edwards threw much better in his second start. The sophomore walked seven hitters but struck out eight while giving up only two hits through six innings.

?Pitching actually has been the big surprise so far,? Oelke said. ?With Edwards? performance (against Marion), to me we have a solid three starters between Leihy, Edwards and now (Dylan) Delk, who threw a gem at Nickerson.

?We?ve always said pitching is the name of the game, and if we can continue to throw strikes like we have that last three games, we?ll be OK. Hopefully, we?ll stay healthy.?

Oelke said his team needs to improve to continue to win.

?We?re not hitting the ball well right now and we?re making a tremendous number of base-running mistakes,? he said. ?Some of that is attributed to youth. Part of it is that mentally we?re just not in the game at times. I?m trying to remind myself that it?s only the first week of April. We?ve got a lot of baseball left.?

Nickerson?It was famine and feast for Hillsboro bats last Tuesday at Nickerson. After managing only five hits in an 11-1 loss in the opener, the Trojans rebounded with 16 hits and an 18-7 thrashing of the Panthers in Game 2 of their doubleheader.

Both games ended early because of the 10-run rule.

In the second game, Hillsboro scored three runs in the first inning and six more in the second to stake an early 9-1 lead through two full innings.

Nickerson chipped away at the lead through the next two innings, and trailed 10-5 through four.

For Hillsboro, innings three through five turned out to be a lull before an eight-run storm in the sixth. Nine consecutive batters reached base during the deluge on two walks, six hits and a Nickerson error.

Freshman Aaron Bina went 3-for-5 for the game, scored three runs and drove in two to pace the Trojans. Jacob Edwards, Daniel Jost, Tyler Ediger, Isaac Leihy, Mitchell Koop and Chris Couts each chipped in two hits.

Freshman Dylan Delk (1-0), picked up the win for HHS, allowing all seven runs (five earned) on nine hits and three walks while striking out four through five innings. Jost pitched the final inning.

In the opener, Nickerson?s R. Julian shut out Hillsboro on three hits, but struck out only two batters through the first four innings.

Unsuccessful steal attempts thwarted two potential Trojan rallies in the third and fourth innings.

In the third, Edwards walked with two outs and advanced to third on a single by Jacob Fish. But the inning ended when Fish was thrown out trying to swipe second base.

In the fourth, Daniel Jost led off with a single, then was thrown out trying to steal second. After Tyler Ediger flied out, Aaron Bina walked and Leihy followed with a double to put runners on second and third. But Julian got Mitchell Koop to pop out to retire the side.

The Trojans, trailing 11-0, finally broke through for their only run in the fifth.

After Couts reached on a fielder?s choice that resulted in the first out of the inning, Edwards was hit by a pitch. Fish followed with a single that brought Couts home.

Jost followed with a single to load the bases, but Ediger was called out on strikes and Bina grounded out to end the game on the 10-run rule.

Fish (0-1) absorbed the loss as the starting pitcher. He was charged with eight runs in 32⁄3 inning, though only four runs were earned, thanks to four Trojan errors. He allowed five hits, walked three and hit two batters while striking out one.

Coming?Hillsboro was scheduled to host Halstead for a doubleheader on Tuesday and will travel to Lindsborg on Friday to square off against Smoky Valley. The Trojans return home Tuesday, April 15, for a pair of games against Hoisington.

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