Hillsboro, seeded No. 4 (11-9), opened the Class 3A regional tournament with a 12-0 win over No. 5 seed Minneapolis (9-11) May 14 at Memorial Field.
Caleb Potucek was the pitching hero for the Trojans. The sophomore threw a one-hit shutout over five innings in the run-rule victory.
“Caleb was awesome on the mound,” head coach Luke Moore said. “He attacked the hitters he needed to attack, and then was able to throw his curveball really effectively against some of their better hitters. Caleb was awesome this year and so flexible, moving from a reliever to a starter.”
Offensively, Brooks Gardner ignited the team with a three-run home run in the opening inning, driving in Kleiner and Potucek, who singled ahead of him. Jacob Funk scored a fourth runner in the inning.
Hillsboro added two runs in the third inning when Jack Parks and Hunter Hein walked with two outs, and Landon Roberts drilled a double down the left-field line.
With a 6-0 lead heading into the bottom of the fourth, the Trojan bats erupted for six more runs, with Funk, Hein, Roberts and Kleiner, all driving in runs.
Hillsboro finished with 11 hits in the game with Kleiner, Potucek and Roberts each having multiple hits. Kleiner led with three hits in four at-bats.
Parks stole three of the eight bases the Trojans swiped during the contest.
“Kaden, Brooks and Landon were spectacular at the plate as well,” Moore said. “Kaden has been a guy who always seems to get us going in a game. Brooks’ home run really set the tone for the game and gave our guys confidence.
“Landon has been awesome down the stretch and has responded really well to being thrust into the lineup.”
The win advance the Trojans into the semifinals versus Marion, the No. 1 seed. The Warriors prevailed in a classic battle, ending the Hillsboro season with a 6-5 loss and a 12-10 record after going 6-16 in 2017.
“I’m proud of this group so much,” Moore said. “To double our win record while losing three starters from last year is a testament to the work that these kids put in last summer as well as the winter and pre-season practices.
“The leadership we got from Chance, Jacob and especially Kaden set the tone for a great year,” he added. “The guys learned how to win this year and pushed themselves to be great every day.
“I loved the way we responded to some tough losses and always came back with a willingness to get better and improve. I will miss this senior class a lot but am excited for the future of Trojan baseball with the guys we have coming back.”