For four innings Litchfield's Billy Beckman shut out Hillsboro on the Toppers' diamond when the teams met Friday night, April 12; then the usual designated hitter Tanner Mullen smacked a bases clearing double into deep right field to bring a collective sigh of relief from the Toppers' side of the field, especially from Hillsboro's starting pitcher, Landon Carroll.
Carroll had surrendered the Panthers' only run in the top of the first as Brady Bishop and Beckham garnered two of their team's four hits. Bishop was retired at second on a fielder's choice (third baseman Nic Ondrey to Mullen, starting at second); but after Jake Frerichs stole second, Beckham drove him home with a single to right.
Carroll's only other trouble spot came in the third when Bishop singled with one out. Carroll picked him off first; after a pickle, he was tagged out. Frerichs walked, though, and again stole second and Beckham's single moved him to third. After Beckham stole second, Carroll fielded a bounce hit back to him by clean-up hitter Nick Braasch. That 1-0 lead from the first stood until the fifth, though, thanks to Beckham, who threw only 41 pitches in those economical four innings. Carroll used 81 pitches navigating the same four innings, primarily because he threw 31 in the bottom of the first.
The Toppers had a chance in the first as Kaden Lemon was hit by Beckham's fourth pitch, Carroll singled, and Griffin King walked to fill the bases with one out. When Beckham retired Jordan Gregg on a foul pop to Braasch at third, though, and fanned the next two hitters, the Toppers were scoreless, with flashbacks to the high left-on-base number at Carlinville inevitable.
However, Beckham surrendered two hits in the next four innings, mixing a curve with a fastball to strike out six in those innings. The hits belonged to King ( a two-out double in the third) and a single by Mullen in the fourth.
The Toppers fifth was a different story. With one out Lemon singled to left and stole second. Carroll reached when a throw to first was dropped for the Panthers' first error, and a King dribbler down the third base line loaded them again.
Gregg's bouncer to short was mishandled, tying the game and leaving the bases loaded. That error meant all the runs in the sixth would be unearned. Nic Ondrey drew a walk for an RBI, with Carroll scoring the lead run and setting the stage for Mullen, whose deep drive to right unloaded the bases. Mullen's subsequent run (scored on a passed ball) was added insurance.
Jeremy Frazier yielded two more runs in the sixth in relief; Beckham had used 47 pitches in the fifth as the Toppers batted around. Carroll and King singled as the sixth began; Gregg drove Carroll in with a ringing double to right, and King scored on a passed ball to end the scoring.
King used his fastball almost exclusively while pitching the seventh; the only runner was Chase Hires, whom King plunked with a pitch. The two teams were to match up again at 10 a.m. Saturday morning, April 13, in one of the two opening games of the Montgomery County Baseball Tournament.
April 12 at
Litchfield 100 000 0 1 4 3
Hillsboro 000 062 x 8 10 0
Litchfield IP R ER H K BB
L-Beckham 5 6 0 7 11 2
Frazier 1 2 2 3 1 1
Hillsboro IP R ER H K BB
W-Carroll 6 1 1 4 6 2
King 1 0 0 0 1 0
Multiple Hits: Litchfield - Brady Bishop (2-4), Billy Beckham (2-4); Hillsboro - Griffin King (3-3), Tanner Mullen (2-3), Landon Carroll (2-4). 2B: Litchfield - Billy Beckham 1; Hillsboro - Griffin King 1, Tanner Mullen 1.
Records: Litchfield (3-7, 1-1), Hillsboro (4-4, 1-1).