Statistical improvements for Hillsboro High’s baseball team were apparent Monday evening, May 10, as the Toppers hosted the Pana Panthers in a South Central Conference baseball game -- until the top of the seventh inning. The performance gave reason for optimism while also shouting, “We’re not there yet,” as the Toppers fell 6-2.
Freshman Deklan Riggs made his second start on the mound for the Toppers and threw a shutout over the first four innings. The Toppers were ahead 1-0 till then, thanks to an unearned first inning run. Drake Vogel reached on a one-out single to left and moved to second when Panther starter Sam Beck’s pick off attempt went astray. With two out Gavin Matoush’s slow roller became a single, and the shortstop’s late throw was wide, allowing Vogel to hustle home.
Beck then pitched effectively, retiring thirteen in a row until Drew Willman singled leading off the bottom of the sixth off left-hand reliever Lane Funneman. By then Pana was ahead 3-1 after bunching four hits, two with two outs, in the top of the fifth. Riggs had surrendered the first high school hit of his career in the second when Funneman singled leading off; Evan Swisher singled to start the third, but he was picked off first. Funneman reached in the fourth on a fly ball that should have been caught in the outfield, but through four Riggs had given up no runs, walked no one, and struck out seven.
Pana grabbed the lead in the fifth. Bryce Bieber singled leading off and, as the tying run, was sacrificed to second by Ryan Karbach. Swisher doubled him home to tie the game; after a strikeout, Brenden Schoonover (who performed well on the basketball floor and football field against the Toppers) doubled into the left field gap to score Swisher. Beck then helped his own cause with an RBI single.
Funneman moved from first base to the pitcher’s mound as the bottom of the sixth began; Willman greeted him with his single and scored a hustle run though Funneman struck out the next four batters to record three outs.
Willman advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored when Pana mishandled a strike-out pitch to Blake Vogel, who would have been the second out, ended the inning on third, tantalizingly close to tying the game, as Funneman used his first ball to strike out the next two Toppers.
Hayden Grosenheider deserved a better fate in relief of Riggs. The senior right-hander gave up a double but no runs in the sixth and retired the first two he faced in the seventh, but then a bizarre stretch began after Schoonover singled. Beck reached when the first-baseman dropped a throw for the potential third out. Schoonover scored. After Drew Hackler singled, Beck scored on a passed ball, the second of the game for the usually reliable Topper catcher; Hackler later scored on yet another passed ball. It was 6-2, and Funneman fanned the side in the bottom of the seventh to secure the visitor’s win.
Pana is now 7-2 for the season; Hillsboro is 2-5, with four more games scheduled this week. That trek began at Morrisonville on Tuesday.
May 10 at Hillsboro
Pana 000 030 3 6 8 2
Hillsboro 100 001 0 2 3 2
Pana IP R ER H K BB
Beck 5 1 0 2 4 0
Funneman 2 1 0 1 7 0
Hillsboro IP R ER H K BB
Riggs 5 3 3 7 9 0
Grosenheider 2 3 0 1 2 1
Multiple Hits: Pana - Evan Swisher 2-3, Brenden Schoonover 2-4, Lane Funneman 2-4. 2B: Pana - Austin Puckett 1, Brenden Schoonover 1, Evan Swisher 1. Runs: Hillsboro - Drake Vogel 1, Gavin Matoush 1, Drew Willman 1.
Record: Hillsboro (2-6, 0-3); Pana (7-2, 3-1).