Topper baseball fans who traveled to Greenville Thursday afternoon, May 20, may still be pinching themselves to be sure they didn’t just dream about Hillsboro scoring four runs in the top of the seventh to win a South Central game 7-6. The action was fierce in the bottom of the inning as well.
Offensive heroes were plentiful as Hillsboro overcame a 6-3 deficit in the seventh. The offense seemed anemic over the first four innings (no runs; four singles - by Dillon Smail, Drake Vogel, Jace Tuetken, and Devin Speiser; two walks; and two reached on errors) off Comet starter Mason Barnes.
The first two runs came in the fifth after Greenville had grabbed a 4-0 lead from Topper starter Hayden Grosenheider though they had only four hits. Vogel scored his run on a balk call, and Tuetken, who had singled, moved to second on the same balk and scored on two wild pitches. The Hillsboro run in the sixth, scored by Speiser, came as Barnes hit Grosenheider and walked three.
That made it 4-3, but Greenville scored two in their sixth as Speiser walked Bohannon as a pinch-hitter. Christian Bauer, who moved from third to the mound in the Topper sixth, sacrificed Bohannon to second (the Comets as a team bunt well); Peyton McCullough reached on an error; both runners scored unearned runs as another error, this time with two outs, occurred behind Speiser.
Then Hillsboro sent nine batters to the plate in the seventh. Blaze Helton was hit by a pitch leading off. Preston Lyerla was his courtesy runner, and he moved to third as Deklan Riggs and Gavin Matoush singled. With one out, Speiser drew a walk, earning an RBI. Then Brady Meier singled to center to drive in the tying run. It was a 6-6 tie with two outs and Meier perched on second.
The magic wasn’t over; Smail was hit by a pitch and Vogel reached on an error to reload the bases. Meier scored the lead run when reliever Steven Jack was called for a balk, a call strongly opposed by the Greenville coaching staff. Still the drama wasn’t over.
Cleanup hitter Drew Pottlast doubled off Speiser to lead off; a wild pitch moved courtesy runner Hayden Graham to third, and Speiser walked speedy Tommy Baker. Drew Willman was summoned from the bullpen.
The situation (no one out, tying run at third) quickly became worse when Baker moved to second without a challenge. The Toppers were fearful of a double steal which could have tied the game.
Then the momentum changed; Smail fielded a ground ball and threw out the batter at first after holding Graham at third. Graham, though, broke for the plate after Smail’s throw, hoping to catch Riggs snoozing after the out. Riggs threw a strike to Helton (the catcher) so far ahead of Graham that he reversed directions and headed back to third. When Helton and Jace Tuetken had him in a run down, Graham slipped, fell, and was tagged out. When the next batter grounded out to Tuetken, Willman had a three pitch save, Hillsboro had a fourth straight win, and fans of both teams were saying, “Unbelievable.”
May 20 at Greenville
Hillsboro 000 021 4 7 8 1
Greenville 012 102 0 6 8 1
Hillsboro IP R ER H K BB
Grosenheider 5 4 4 6 6 2
Speiser 1 2 0 2 1 2
Willman 1 0 0 0 0 0
Hillsboro Batting Statistics
Multiple Hits: None. Runs: Drake Vogel 1, Jace Tuetken 1, Blaze Helton 1, Deklan Riggs 1, Gavin Matoush 1, Devin Speiser 1, Brady Meier 1. RBI: Dillon Smail 1, Drake Vogel 1, Devin Speiser 1, Brady Meier 1.
Record: Hillsboro (6-7).
The Riverton Hawks baseball team has faced more than a few problems this spring: games cancelled by pandemic concerns, a young roster, and, at least on Friday, May 21, transportation problems that caused a late start when they visited Hillsboro’s sports complex, but they had no problem with a competitive spirit once the game began. They were ahead 3-1 after two innings and tied 3-3 entering the bottom of the fifth before the Toppers took control enroute to a 13-3 win.
Senior Drew Willman threw the first four innings for the Toppers; after a Jace Tuetken to Dillon Smail to Deklan Riggs double play ended the Hawks’ first (the Topper defense turned two infield double plays in the six inning affair), Hillsboro scored first as Drake Vogel singled, stole second, moved to third on a fly ball to deep right, and scored as Blaze Helton smacked a double to deep center.
Left-handed, soft tossing Brett Clyne surrendered only two more runs, needed by Hillsboro to tie the contest in the third after the visitors bunched two doubles, a walk, and a single for three runs in their second inning. Two were out in the third when Tuetken singled, Helton was hit by a pitch, and Riggs doubled the runs home.
The tie was broken when the Toppers sent nine men to the plate in their fifth. Jacob Schaub had retired the four Toppers he faced in relief until Dillon Smail doubled to lead off the fifth; he scored the tie-breaking run as Helton struck a sacrifice fly to center. With two outs, a single by Riggs, an error, a walk, and a two RBI single by Willman meant unearned runs and a comfortable-for-the-first-time Topper lead.
Six more runs in the sixth brought the game to an early end. Smail (another double), Vogel, Helton, Riggs (a triple), Devin Speiser, Ian Malloy, and Preston Lyerla all contributed hits, with Lyerla’s single scoring Malloy with the magic 10-run margin run.
May 21 at Hillsboro
Riverton 030 000 3 9 1
Hillsboro 102 046 13 16 1
Hillsboro IP R ER H K BB
Willman 4 3 3 8 5 1
Riggs 2 0 0 1 1 0
Hillsboro Batting Statistics
Multiple Hits: Deklan Riggs 3-4, Blaze Helton 2-2, Drake Vogel 2-3, Drew Willman 2-3, Dillon Smail 2-4. 2B: Dillon Smail 2, Deklan Riggs 1, Blaze Helton 1. 3B: Deklan Riggs 1. Runs: Dillon Smail 2, Preston Lyerla 2, Drake Vogel 2, Jace Tuetken 2, Deklan Riggs 1, Gavin Matoush 1, Owen Anderson 1, Devin Speiser 1, Ian Malloy 1. RBI: Deklan Riggs 4, Blaze Helton 3, Drew Willman 2, Preston Lyerla 1, Drake Vogel 1, Devin Speiser 1.
Record: Hillsboro (7-7).