The Hillsboro baseball team came close to sweeping a doubleheader against visiting Larned on Thursday.
The Trojans lost a heartbreaker in Game 1 after leading 9-6 through six innings. only to surrender four runs in the top of the seventh. The Trojans tied the game in bottom of the seventh, but suffered a 13-10 eight-inning loss.
To their credit, Hillsboro came back in Game 2 to claim a 5-4 victory —their first of the season—with a comeback of their own in the bottom of the sixth.
Hillsboro opened Game 1 with a bang when Caleb Potucek homered after Kaden Kleiner drew a game-opening walk.
The Trojans pushed their lead to 4-0 through two innings, but Larned tied the game with four runs in the top of the third.
Hillsboro came right back with four runs of their own, fueled by doubles off the bats of Jorge Hanschu and Bryant Young.
With Hillsboro leading 9-6 heading into the seventh inning, the Indians launched another four-run inning to take 10-9 lead. The Trojans forced the game into extra innings when Potucek singled and scored the tying run.
Jack Parks (0-1) absorbed the pitching loss for Hillsboro. He allowed two hits and three runs over 1.2 innings, striking out one.
With the game tied at 10-10, Larned scored three runs off Parks. Hillsboro needed another dramatic comeback, but instead went down in order to end in the game.
Kleiner was the starting pitcher for Hillsboro. The senior allowed five hits and six runs over 5.1 innings, striking out six.
“Our pitchers are getting into to many three-ball counts, and we mess around too much with the bottom of the order guys,” coach Luke Moore said. “We tend to be a very momentum-driven team. We started off so well the first couple of innings in Game 1 and then we walked a few too many guys and made an error that compounded into more issues.”
Hillsboro collected 14 hits in the game. Kleiner, Potucek, Brooks Gardner, Jacob Funk, Hanschu and Bryant Young contributed two hits each.
“We have to be able to respond even when we don’t have momentum,” Moore said. “We left too many guys on base those early innings of Game 1.”
Bryant Young took the mound for Game 2, and limited Larned to three runs through four innings.
Hillsboro scored three times in the bottom of the third to tie the game at 3-3 with Chance Elliot, Kleiner and Gardner crossing the plate. Hanschu generated the only base hit in the inning.
With the game tied at 4-4 heading into the bottom of the sixth, Hillsboro scored the eventual winning run with the help of a Larned error.
Potucek led off with a double, advanced on a ground out and scored the wining run on the error on a ball hit by Hanschu.
Potucek (1-0) earned the pitching victory in relief of Young. Potucek threw the final three innings, surrendering only one run on three hits. He struck out three batters and walked one.
“Bryant pitched a great game,” Moore said. “He didn’t know he was going to start until 10 minutes before the game, because we had to use Jack in Game 1, so that was great to see him come through.
“It was good to get a win under our belt and win a close game, which we didn’t do much last year. We should have swept Larned. That is another example of having a winning culture, which is something we have to develop.
“We are very competitive and I think that will continue,” Moore said. “I like that we have responded well to a lot of adversity with getting down and coming back.
“I told the guys Friday that we are a good team, so let’s start acting like it. We have to start carrying ourselves like champions.”
Coming—The Trojans were scheduled to play at Haven on Tuesday and then at Hoisington on Friday. The Hoisington game was originally scheduled for April 6, but was moved back a week because of weather.