Hillsboro baseball splits doubleheader at Kingman

Hillsboro’s Kaden Kleiner slides safely into third in the fifth inning of Hills­boro’s 3-2 loss to Kingman on Friday. The sophomore took the mound in Game 2 and pitched the Trojans to a 12-5 complete-game victory.

Hillsboro’s baseball team rebounded from an agonizingly close 3-2 loss in Game 1 with a dominant 12-5 victory in Game 2 of its April 15 doubleheader at Kingman.

In the opener, the Trojans had the tying run at third base with one out in the seventh inning, but a fly out and a strikeout ended the game and offset a strong complete-game pitching performance by Austin Cross, who allowed only three hits while striking out 10 Eagles in six innings.

“Cross pitched good enough to win,” coach Doug Dick said. “I just wish we had backed him up with some runs.”

The Trojans got another solid pitching performance from Kaden Kleiner in the nightcap—and this time his teammates came through with significant support.

The sophomore threw all seven innings for Hillsboro, surrendering five runs on 11 hits. He struck out four and walked two.

“That’s the best Kleiner’s pitched in the past two years,” Dick said. “It was good to see him get some confidence on the mound. He pounded the strike zone, and we made plays. That’s the key.”

The Trojans set the tone with a four-run first inning, fueled by singles from Kleiner, Braden Vogt and Cross, and a double by Jorge Hanschu. Hillsboro pushed the lead to 8-0 with three more runs in the top of the third inning.

The Eagles touched Kleiner for three runs in the bottom of the third, but the Trojans got two of those back in the fourth inning on Hanschu’s second RBI hit of the game.

Hillsboro finished with 10 hits, with Kleiner, Brooks Gardner and Hanschu contributing two each.

“I told them Wednesday that we took a step backward on Tuesday the way we played offensively and defensively—and I said I expect to take two steps forward Friday,” Dick said. “And we did, especially the way we pitched, and in the second game we put some runs on the board.”

Pratt—A long commute, plus two tough pitchers, resulted in a pair of run-rule losses for the Tro­jans April 12.

Hillsboro lost 12-2 in a five-inning Game 1, then were no-hit in a 15-0 loss in Game 2, which ended in the fourth inning.

“They had the luxury of throwing their one and two (pitchers),” coach Doug Dick said. “Both pitchers were really good—they’re both upperclassmen.”

Meanwhile, Hillsboro starter Braden Vogt pitched into the fourth inning. The junior gave up seven hits, but in the second inning he issued five walks and hit one batter in a four-run surge.

“Braden hung with it for awhile, but he wasn’t as sharp as he has been on the mound this year,” Dick said. “His pitch count got up.”

Hillsboro scored its two runs in the third inning. Bryant Young led off with a walk, one out later Kaden Kleiner singled. They scored on back-to-back singles by Vogt and Austin Cross off starter Sean Noel.

“We scored a couple of runs in the top of the third and left the bases loaded—so we had opportunities there,” Dick said. “They’re a good, solid team. They don’t make mistakes, they kept the ball in front of them, they kept us from advancing, so we only managed two runs.”

Game 2 was a mismatch from the outset. Pitchers Brooks Gard­ner and Clayton Philpott combined to give up 13 runs as 19 batters came to the plate in Pratt’s first at-bat.

That was far more run support than Pratt’s Jacob Kurz needed. The senior didn’t allow a hit in the four-inning game and struck out nine of the 14 batters he faced.

“Against a good team, you can’t dig yourself holes like this,” Dick said. “You can’t keep giving up those free bases and expect to win. Obviously, we faced good competition, but we took two steps backward as far as throwing strikes.”

Coming—After two games on the road last week, the Trojans (3-7) will return to Memorial Field this week for scheduled doubleheaders against Lar­ned April 19 and Marion April 24.

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