HHS Baseball splits at Smoky Valley


Hillsboro?s Aaron Stepanek dives back to first base in reaction to a pick-off attempt by Smoky Valley pitcher Ben Mack in Game 1 of Thursday?s doubleheader. First baseman Casey Miller prepares to receive the throw, which was late.

The Hillsboro High baseball team shut down Smoky Valley for all but two innings in the second game of their doubleheader Thursday at Memorial Field.

But that gave the Vikings enough room to crawl out of an early hole and defeat the Trojans 8-5 and escape with a split.

Hillsboro won the opener 7-4 with a three-run surge in the bottom of the sixth and some effective relief pitching down the stretch.

The Trojans carried the momentum from their Game 1 victory into the nightcap, scoring five runs in their first at-bat.

Hillsboro took advantage of the wildness of Viking starter Ben Mack, who walked five batters, hit one and gave up two base hits before he was relieved with only two outs recorded.

Troy Frick and Jacob Fish each drove in a run with singles. The other RBI were credited to Mitchell Koop and Dustin Jost, who walked, and Dustin Strunk, who was hit by a pitch, with the bases loaded.

Unfortunately for Hillsboro, Tres Gutierrez and Weston Kennedy were effective in relief of Miller, scattering five hits for 61⁄3 shutout innings.

Mack?s wildness proved to be contagious. After facing the minimum three batters in the top of the first, Hillsboro starter Troy Frick began misfiring in the second inning. The senior walked four Vikings, hit one and gave up two hits.

With only one out, Aaron Stepanek relieved Frick and retired the side with Hillsboro clinging to a 5-4 lead.

Smoky erupted again in the third inning, taking advantage of an error and a bad-hop single that set up a two-run double by J.W. Miller to highlight a three-run rally that resulted in a 7-5 lead.

The Vikings pushed across an unneeded insurance run in the sixth to secure the 8-5 victory.

Stepanek (0-1) absorbed the loss, charged with four runs, three of them earned, in 41⁄3 innings. He allowed five hits, walked three Vikings and struck out three.

Gavin Serene finished the game with 11⁄3 innings of hitless relief, striking out two of the five hitters he faced.

In Game 1, Hillsboro scored two runs out of the gate. Dustin Jost led off with a double, then scored on a one-out single by Lucas Hamm. Hamm eventually scored on an error.

Hillsboro pushed the lead to 3-0 in the third when Alex Nuss ripped a one-out double and scored on two-out single by Stepanek.

Smoky Valley took the lead briefly with a four-run rally in the top of the fifth. Hillsboro starter Riesen had been cruising along on a two-hitter through four innings.

But in the fifth he hit the leadoff man, then surrendered two hits before Tyler Ediger relieved him with only one out and the score tied at 3. The freshman right-hander surrendered a run-scoring double to Nie Eppen?bach, but shut down the Vikings without further damage.

Hillsboro tied the game at 4-4 in its half of the inning when Riesen followed Alex Nuss?s one-out single with a triple to right center.

The Trojans broke the tie in the sixth, scoring three times on two singles, a walk and an error. Hamm drove in two runs with one of those hits and Nuss drove in the third run with his single.

Ediger (1-0) and Jost nailed down the win by combining for 21⁄3 innings of one-hit pitching with no bases on balls.

For the day, Hamm and Nuss swung big sticks for Hillsboro. Hamm finished 5-for-7 with two RBI and two runs scored while Nuss was 4-for-6 with two runs scored and one RBI.

With a few exceptions, coach Phil Oelke said he was disappointed with the intensity level of his team. ?We were flat,? he said. ?We scored five runs in the first inning (of Game 2) and you could just feel the atmosphere in the dugout relax.?

Coming?The Trojans were scheduled to play at Hoisington on Tuesday, then are scheduled to play host to Sedgwick on Friday, beginning at 4:30 p.m. at Memorial Field.

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