The Hillsboro baseball team competed well against a talented Pratt squad Thursday, but at the end of the day the Trojans came up short in the win column, losing by scores of 6-4 and 11-6.
In the opener, the Greenbacks gradually built a 5-0 lead, scoring single runs in the first, second and fourth innings and two runs in the third inning off Trojan starter Kaden Kleiner. The junior right-hander surrendered only four hits during that stretch, but six walks and a couple of balk calls put the Trojans in a challenging hole.
This time the home team responded to the challenge, touching Pratt starter Gage Taylor for one run in the bottom of the fourth, and three more in the bottom of the sixth to pull within 5-4. Keying the rally were singles by Kleiner and Jacob Funk, a walk to Braden Vogt and a single by Ben Koop.
Pratt managed an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning off Trojan reliever Ben Gardner and made it stand by putting the Trojans down in order in the home half.
In Game 2, Hillsboro found itself in a 3-0 hole through 31⁄2 innings off pitcher Vogt.
The Trojans touched Pratt starter Justin Lamatsch for one run in the bottom of the fourth, then broke loose with a five-run fifth inning, combining three hits, including a double by Vogt, with two bases on balls.
Hillsboro’s 6-3 lead held until the top of the seventh, when Pratt generated three runs off Vogt to tie the game.
Hillsboro came up empty in the bottom of the seventh, sending the game into extra innings. Pratt put an end to any speculation with a five-run burst off Vogt and Gardner in the top of the eighth.
Despite the losses, coach Luke Moore was encouraged by what he saw.
“I saw some resiliency from the guys finally,” he said. “We’ve been a team that gets down and stays down, so it was cool to see them put some runs together in the first game, and in the second game to take a lead. Except for Game 1 (of the season), we haven’t taken a lead into the bottom of the seventh, so that was great to see.
“The first game, defensively, we played pretty well. We didn’t make an error. The second game, the reason we lost is that we made errors and couldn’t throw strikes.”
The losses dropped Hillsboro’s season record to 1-7, but Moore believes his team is making progress.
“The guys are pretty discouraged because the wins aren’t coming,” he said. “We coaches believe we’re not that far off (from winning). Pratt’s a team that’s probably going to go to state in (Class) 4A, and we played with them. Now we just have to develop a mentality that we’re going to win those (close) games.”
Coming—The Trojans will be on the road this week, playing doubleheaders at Lyons on Tuesday and at Kingman on Friday.
Hillsboro will be back home May 2 when Halstead comes to Memorial Field.