Late Runs Push Toppers Past Trojans

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Two teams with similar records and similar  pitching woes met when Auburn came to Hillsboro for a nonconference game Friday afternoon, May 14; the Trojans reportedly had one experienced arm available, and he, Brody Barns, started. The Toppers were playing their fifth game in five days, a tough task for a relatively small school in a state with strict restrictions on the number of pitches one can throw.

The Toppers started Owen Anderson, who had only thrown seven pitches while garnering a save the night before. Prior to Thursday, he had started against Vandalia there on May 5. Hillsboro reached Barns for two runs and two hits in the first as Dillon Smail singled, stole second and scored as Drake Vogel singled. Vogel also singled and scored a hustle run when the Trojans expected him to stop at third and were caught by surprise. to stop at third and caught by surprise. That happened after centerfield Hayden Smith nabbed a line drive into the right-center gap to rob Jace Tuetken of an extra-base hit.

Anderson surrendered his first run in the third when he hit Hunter Newbold with a pitch; he scored on a two-out single by catcher Luke Boesderpher. The Toppers answered in their fourth when Helton reached on an error. His courtesy runner (in high school ball, catchers and pitchers seldom run for themselves), Preston Lyerla stole second and sailed toward third when the throw to second escaped. When the throw to third was also short and wide, Lyerla scored: 3-1.

That euphoria didn’t last long as Auburn tallied four, almost five, in their fifth; but not all were Anderson’s fault as two infield errors, one as the nine-spot batter reached leading off and another on a ground ball that could have been an inning-ending double play contributing heavily, Deven Speiser was called in from center field to pitch with one run in, no one out, and the bases loaded. Three more runs scored, the first on a sacrifice fly to Drew Willman in left by Cole Smith, but a fifth was erased when another apparent sacrifice fly by Jed Ferguson to Gavin Matoush in right became a double play when the runner on second left before the catch was made in his haste to reach third. He was ruled out on appeal.

When the Trojans added a run against Speiser in the sixth, Auburn’s lead was 6-3. Barth walked leading off, Hunter Newbold singled, and Hayden Smith walked. Vogel and Speiser switched spots (shortstop and pitcher); Vogel faced a bases loaded, no one out spot. He solved it uniquely, striking out the three-spot hitter, giving up a sacrifice fly to center that scored Barth and picking off the runner at first for the third out.

Evidently, that inspired the Topper offense; it was also obvious that Burns, who was nearing 70 pitches, was tiring. Still, a 6-3 deficit with two innings to play can be daunting. The Toppers sent ten batters to the plate as they climbed that hill. Two errors and a wild pitch helped.

Tuetken reached on an error; with one out, Deklan Riggs doubled to the right field corner: 6-4. Hayden Grosenheider singled in front of Matoush, who drove in both runners to tie the game with a ringing triple into the left-center gap; then he scored on a wild pitch to give his team the lead. After Speiser and Willman singled (Speiser scored),  Barns recorded a strike out but had to leave the mound with two outs because of his pitch count. Austin Porga came in to record the final out.

Vogel pitched the seventh to protect his first mound win of the season. He began with a strike out, induced a pop-up to Speiser at short, and struck out the third man he faced –but that man reached first because he swung at a wild pitch. Tension mounted Ferguson singled  Barns as to second, but dispersed when Vogel struck out the last Trojan to bat.

Now 5-7, the Toppers host Vandalia in conference action today, Monday, May 17, weather/field conditions permitting. The Vandals defeated the Toppers 12-2 in nonconference play earlier in the season. Thursday, Hillsboro travels to Greenville for another conference game.

May 14 at Hillsboro

Hillsboro 000 000 1 1 4 3

Lincolnwood 000 013 x 4 5 2

Pitching Statistics

Hillsboro IP R ER H K BB

Anderson 4 5 2 3 1 3

Speiser 1 2 1 1 0 3

Vogel 2 0 0 1 4 0

Batting Statistics

Multiple Hits: Hillsboro - Gavin Matoush 2-3, Drake Vogel 2-4. 2B: Hillsboro - Deklan Riggs 1. Runs: Hillsboro - Dillon Smail 1, Drake Vogel 1, Jace Tuetken 1, Blaze Helton 1, Deklan Riggs 1, Hayden Grosenheider 1, Gavin Matoush 1, Devin Speiser 1. RBI: Hillsboro - Drake Vogel 2, Gavin Matoush 2, Blaze Helton 1, Deklan Riggs 1.

Record: Hillsboro (5-7); Auburn (4-8).

Smail's Homer Helps Beat Bulldogs

The cry “Have yourself a day, lad,” has been around for several years, to be used when an athlete does something spectacular in a contest.  

Scorekeepers often put stars in baseball  or softball scorebooks to remind them of a better-than-usual defensive stop. 

Hillsboro’s second baseman Dillon Smail earned those distinctions at the beginning and at the end of the Toppers’ 3-2 conference win in Staunton Thursday evening, May 13.

As the leadoff  hitter Smail pulled one of Bulldog hurler Kyle Favre’s first pitches over the left field fence to put the Toppers ahead 1-0; Hillsboro starter Hayden Grosenheider made the lead stand until the Toppers could add two more in the top of the fifth; again, Smail was involved.

Drew Willman singled to start that inning; he ws forced at second by a ground ball to short by Smail, who not only beat the throw to first for an attempted double play, but then stole second. 

Drew Vogel singled Smail home before he too, stole second, advanced to third when the catcher’s throw to second was errant and scored on a Jace Tuetken sacrifice fly.

Trailing 3-0, Staunton scored one in their half of the fifth as Frank Goss singled leading off and scored when Favre, batting clean up, singled with two outs. Grosenheider gave up only that one run, but the Dogs had two hits in the first, one in second, one in the third, and the two in the fifth. He had also hit a batter, walked two and struck out two, so his pitch count mounted steadily. When he reached 105, he had to leave the mound.

That moment came with a run in and the tying run on third in the bottom of the seventh. Favre retired seven in a row until Smail walked with two out in the Topper seventh. Perhaps in the lowest moment for Smail in the contest; he was thrown out trying to steal second–but his defensive moment of glory awaited.

Grosenheider struck out the first and the third batter he faced in the seventh, but speedy Sam Best singled between strickeouts. (Best in is a very good shortstop). The pitch count was just short of 100 when Favre worked the count and then singled. Best, who had stolen second, home. Grosenheider could by rule face no more batters.

Owen Anderson came to the mound as Grosenheider went to center. As Anderson faced catcher Caden Shearlock (batting in the five spot), Favre made his way to third. Deep in the count, Shearlock grounded the ball wide of first; Deklan Riggs dove for it but missed as Shearlock ran hard down the first base line; Favre raced toward the plate with the could-have-been tying run. Anderson was on his way to cover first.

Smail covered a lot of ground to stop the ball headed toward right field; his throw to Anderson, a difficult one to throw and catch, allowed Anderson to touch the bag a half-step ahead of Shearlock. It  seemed-like-a-single turned into a game-ending out.

Favre slid home, assuming he’d tied the game, probably wondering why his teammates weren’t rushing to mob him. The Topper team, though, was streaming to their dugout to celebrate their first conference win, Staunton’s first conference loss.

May 13 at Staunton

Hillsboro 100 020 0 3 6 2

Staunton 000 010 1 2 7 2

Pitching Statistics

Hillsboro IP R ER H K BB

Grosenheider 6.2 2 0 7 8 2

Anderson 0.1 0 0 0 0 0

Batting Statistics

Multiple Hits: Hillsboro - Drake Vogel 2-3; Staunton - Silvester 2-3, Favre 2-4. 2B: Staunton - Miersch 1, Silvester 1. HR: Hillsboro - Dillon Smail 1.

Record: Hillsboro (4-7, 1-3).

Topper Rally Falls Just Short At Rochester

Hillsboro’s baseball team could have felt like the fabled country mouse visiting his big city relatives when the baseball Toppers ventured to Rochester High’s athletic complex Wednesday afternoon, May 12, but if intimidation or envy existed, it didn’t appear on the field as Rochester had to withstand a seventh inning rally to win 8-6.

The Rockets threatened early, stranding five people in the first two innings before exploding for seven runs in the third. The outburst began when Topper starter Gavin Matoush hit Cy Cox (who starred in Staunton in multiple sports before his family moved to Rochester) with a pitch leading off the third. Five singles and a walk followed, with an out recorded at third when a runner was hit by a  batted ball while leading off in fair territory.

Drew Willman replaced Matoush on the mound and gave up a single to Seth Parkinson and a walk to Cox before recording the last outs of the inning. Willman pitched the rest of the game, surrendering only one run (in the sixth). His performance in turn gave Hillsboro a chance to come back.

Rocket Pitcher Keegan Williams breezed through the first three innings, allowing only a first-inning single to Jace Tuetken. Two errors, one each by the two middle infielders, became three unearned runs in the top of the fourth. Drake Vogel and Willman reached on the errors. A Deklan Riggs single scored Vogel; then a two out double by Blaze Helton scored Willman and Riggs.

In the fifth, Dillon Smail  (a single) and Vogel (a double), were in scoring position with one out when Kelton Keran relieved Williams, and he induced a short fly to right field and a ground ball to short to end the threat.

In the top of the sixth, Hayden Grosenheider walked with one out in front of a single by Helton, but a fielder’s choice and a pop-up to short kept Keran’s slate as a pitcher clean. That would change in the seventh.

Willman, who hadn’t issued a hit in either the fourth or fifth, was touched for a one-out double by Drew Lenz in the Rocket sixth. With two out, Zack Adcock singed Lenz home.

Trailing 8-3 entering the top of the seventh, the Toppers seemed to make a collective decision not to go easily, even after two were out. Tuetken drew a walk to begin the rally; then Willman and Riggs singled to load the bases.  Grosenheider unloaded them with a double, making the score 8-6.

Catcher Tyler Gade was called upon to use his fast ball to stop the rally; he struck out Helton swinging, but his replacement behind the plate missed the ball. When Helton reached first, he and Grosenheider represented the tying runs, but Gade overmatched the last Topper hope to close the game with a strikeout.

May 12 at Rochester

Hillsboro 000 300 3 6 9 0

Rochester 007 001 x 8 12 1

Pitching Statistics

Hillsboro IP R ER H K BB

Matoush 2.1 7 7 9 0 2

Willman 3.2 1 1 3 2 2

*Matoush 2 HBP

Hillsboro Batting Statistics

Multiple Hits: Deklan Riggs 2-4, Blaze Helton 2-4. 2B: Drake Vogel 1, Blaze Helton 1, Hayden Grosenheider 1.

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