Hillsboro?s Jacob Edwards scrambles for home plate as the baseball eludes Southeast of Saline catcher Braden Long during the third inning of the semifinal game. Edwards was safe and the Trojans went on to win 10-0.
When it mattered most, the Hillsboro High baseball team delivered its best.
Back-to-back shutouts, thanks in part to solid defensive support, propelled the Trojans to their first state tournament berth in six years last Tuesday.
Hosting their first-ever Class 3A regional, Hillsboro made the most of the opportunity.
After earning a first-round bye Monday with a bracket-best 15-5 season record, the Trojans run-ruled perennially tough Southeast of Saline in the semifinal game, 10-0, then turned right around and beat Beloit, 5-0, to claim the championship.
?You don?t blank two teams that have been putting up runs against some very good teams without being pretty decent yourself,? coach Phil Oelke said about his relatively young squad.
?I think that says a lot about how far we?ve come since the beginning of the year. Now, it?s going to be a matter of are they satisfied with just getting there.?
In the championship game, junior left-hander Jacob Edwards pitched a two-hitter. He struggled with his control at the start, walking the first two batters and loading the bases on an infield hit. But a strikeout and a failed steal attempt of home got him out of the jam.
In the second inning, Edwards allowed a lead-off single, but that was the last base hit Beloit managed the rest of the night. Edwards finished with a season-high nine strikeouts and scattered six walks.
?We were a little tight to start with?Jake in particular,? Oelke said. ?He walked the first two, and we called time out to get him settled down.
?By the fourth, he really started to throw pretty good baseball. He still was getting behind in the count a little, but his slider started working for him. Then by the fifth his changeup was probably his best pitch. He was starting to hit spots with his pitches and was looking really good.?
On offense, Hillsboro scored its first run in the bottom of the second inning. Ben Bebermeyer doubled with one out, Dylan Delk struck out but ran to first when the ball hit the dirt. He was thrown out, but the first baseman?s throw to third to try to get an advancing Bebermeyer skipped away from the third baseman and Bebermeyer scored easily.
Hillsboro added two more runs in the third inning on a walk to Edwards and consecutive singles by Daniel Jost, Tyler Ediger and Aaron Bina.
Hillsboro tacked on the final two runs of the game in the bottom of the fourth.
Derek Kelsey led off with a walk, stole second and then scored on a single by Chris Couts. Jacob Fish singled and Edwards walked to load the bases. After Jost was out on the infield-fly rule, Ediger lofted a fly to right that scored Couts.
Hillsboro managed eight hits in the contest. Jost had two of them and scored twice to pace the attack.
HHS 10, SES 0?Anchored by the two-hit pitching of Tyler Ediger, the Trojans advanced to the championship game with a 10-0, run-rule victory over Southeast of Saline earlier in the afternoon.
Hillsboro scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the second inning when Aaron Bina led off with a walk, stole second, moved to third on a ground out and scored on ground out by Derek Kelsey.
In the third, Hillsboro took control with a four-run burst aided by three Southeast errors. Delk had the big hit?a one-out single with the bases loaded that scored Daniel Jost and pinch-runner Luke Moore.
The Trojans bumped the margin to 8-0 in the fourth on consecutive singles up the middle by Jacob Edwards, Jost and Ediger, who drove in Jacobs. Aaron Bina then singled to left to score Jost and Moore.
Hillsboro completed the 10-run margin in the bottom of the fifth when Jacob Fish led off with a walk, advanced to second on a wild pick-off throw by the pitcher and scored on a triple by Edwards.
SES then put Jost and Ediger on with automatic walks to load the bases. Bina followed with a solid base hit to center to drive in the final two runs and end the game.
Ediger threw all five innings for Hillsboro, striking out three wand walking only one.
The Trojans finished with nine hits in the game, with Edwards claiming three for himself. He also scored three runs and drove in one. Bina added two hits with two RBI and two runs scored.
Four errors by Southeast aided the cause.
?If Southeast plays better defense, that?s a tough game,? coach Phil Oelke said. ?I thought going in to the tournament that Southeast was the team to beat?I don?t care what the seeding said. That proved to be true.?
Coming?Hillsboro (18-5, including one bye victory in the regional tournament) is seeded sixth at state and will square off against No. 3 Galena (20-3) in a first-round game at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Norvell Field.
If HHS makes it to the semifinals, the Trojans would play the winner of No. 2 Doniphan County (19-2) and No. 7 Douglass (15-6) at 12:30 p.m. The third-place game would be played at 3 p.m. Saturday and the championship game at 5:30 p.m.
On the other side of the bracket, No. 1 Silver Lake will play No. 8 Larned (8-15), and No. 4 Medicine Lodge (19-4) will take on No. 5 Central Heights (17-4).