A two-run rally in the top of the seventh inning put Hillsboro into the driver?s seat for a historic baseball sweep of Pratt Friday evening. But the home team rallied for two runs in the bottom of the inning to salvage a doubleheader split.
Hillsboro won the opener 9-4 behind the strong pitching of Austin Cross and a five-run rally in the fifth inning, but lost the nightcap by a 4-3 score.
The victory was Hills?boro?s first against Pratt since 2011, the first CKL season. The Trojans are now 9-3 for the current season.
In the dramatic second game, Hillsboro?s Dylan Nelson and Pratt?s Sean Noel were locked in a pitching battle through six innings.
With the Greenbacks leading 2-1 heading into the seventh, Hillsboro made its last charge?with some help from the home team.
With two outs and two strikes on Cody Delk, the Trojans stayed alive when Delk reached on an error. A second error enabled Jordan Faul to get on board. Cross delivered a single that enabled Delk and Faul to score the go-ahead runs.
But the Trojans were equally generous in the home half of the inning. An error, a single and a walk loaded the bases with nobody out.
Brandon Ruckle then drew a walk to force in the tying run. The game ended with a passed ball that allowed the winning run to cross the plate.
?This probably wasn?t Dylan?s most effective outing,? coach Doug Dick said. ?He was in trouble several innings, but he battled out of a lot of innings. I thought in that last inning, even with the leadoff hitter getting on, he might battle his way through it.?
Game 1 was a scoreless pitching duel between Cross and Pratt?s Will Fellhoelter before the Trojans got on the board in the fourth inning.
Cross singled and made it to second base on an error. Pinch runner Ben Koop later scored on a bunt by Jakob Hanschu compounded by a Pratt throwing error.
The Trojans pushed the lead to 6-0 in the fifth inning. In succession, Faul reached on a fielder?s choice, Cross tripled and David Dick, Justus Hilliard, Hanschu and Nelson all singled. After Braden Vogt drew a walk, Micah Allen singled home the fifth run of the inning.
Pratt rallied for three runs in the bottom of the fifth, aided by two walks, a misplayed ball in the outfield and a triple that cleared the bases.
The Trojans scored three more times in the last two innings to preserve the win for Cross (2-1), who surrendered five walks but only one base hit through six innings. He struck out nine Greenbacks.
?Cross battled out of some innings,? coach Doug Dick said. ?The last two times he?s pitched, the umpires are not calling that pitch that?s 1 or 2 inches off the plate. Still, he threw well.?
Delk came in to relieve Cross early in the seventh inning and nailed down the victory.
?I?m pleased we got a split with Pratt?and we were very close to a sweep,? Dick said. ?It shows where we are this year.?
?Pratt?s always a solid team no matter what, even if they?re down in upper classmen (this season), they?re still a well-coached program. Even though they?re young, they?re very competitive.?
Coming?Hillsboro was scheduled to host a young Haven team Tuesday, then will travel to Halstead Friday to take on an improving Dragon squad.
If the Trojans fare well in those two doubleheaders, they could end the regular season next Tuesday with a showdown at home against Lyons for the league title.