Sometimes when a team thinks it has beaten the odds to come out on top, fate says, “Take that,” and hopes are dashed. That seems epitomized by the Hillsboro baseball team’s loss to Gillespie in the South Central Conference opener for both outfits in Hillsboro on Monday, May 3.
Hillsboro began the scoring in the second as Jace Tuetken singled leading off and moved to second as Gavin Matoush drew a walk off Miner pitcher Zane Cunningham. Both moved up a base on a wild pitch. Deklan Riggs singled Tuetken home, and Matoush scored as Devin Speiser grounded out.
Hillsboro starter Hayen Grosenheider struck out Cunningham with the bases loaded in the first and gave up a single in the second, but he also had notched three strikeouts before Cameron Hailstone, one of the better hitters in the area, singled in the third and scored on a double by Cameron Link.
Ahead 2-1 entering the bottom of the third, the Toppers chased Cunningham from the mound with a six run outburst. Dillon Smail walked. Then Drake Vogel, Tuetken, and Matoush singled to load the bases. Grosenheider earned an RBI by walking; Miner sophomore Colton Bultema moved from second base to the mound.
An error at first on a ball hit by Blaze Helton made it 4-2; a ground ball by Riggs forced Helton but plated another run, and a scratch hit by Speiser put the Toppers up 8-2 after three. That lead was cause for optimism, especially when Grosenheider stranded two more runners in the Miner fourth.
Disaster lurked in the fifth and sixth, however. With one out, Preston Kaylor and Cunningham drew walks. Grosenheider, nearing the 100 pitch mark, was replaced on the mound by Gavin Matoush. He was greeted by three consecutive singles; after a strikeout, Zack Reiniesch doubled down the left field line. When the last out, a fly ball to right, was recorded, Hillsboro’s lead was only 8-6.
Bultema proved to be an effective pitcher; the only run he surrendered was unearned in the bottom of the sixth. Gillespie, however, scored four more in their sixth to take the lead as more dark clouds than those offered by the threatening weather gathered.
Tuetken began the sixth as the Topper pitcher; he threw to five batters, coaxing a ground ball to third, then surrendering a single and a walk before coaxing a fly ball to center. When he walked the eighth place batter (a mistake that made him the losing pitcher), Vogel came to pitch in hopes of preserving the 8-6 lead.
He could have, but the error bug bit as first the second baseman (who started as the center fielder) and then the shortstop (who plays second when Vogel is at short) committed throwing errors. The resultant runs tied the game and then put Gillespie ahead 9-8. Hailstone singled in the insurance run, and Owen Anderson came on to induce the clean-up hitter to pop out to catcher Helton.
Still, the Toppers needed only two runs to tie, and they had six outs to work with. They almost made it happen in the sixth.
Anderson’s lead-off ground ball to the left side of the infield became a two-base error; Preston Lyerla was his courtesy runner, and he moved to third on a wild pitch. Smail’s sacrifice fly scored Lyerla; then Vogel walked and went to second on a wild pitch. A swinging strikeout ended the threat.
Anderson hit the Miner’s lead-off batter in the Miner seventh, but he finished with a 1-2-3 inning after that. Sadly for the Toppers, Bultema retired the three he faced in the bottom of the inning to gain the mound win for himself and the conference win for his team.
The game, played with the wind blowing across from left field to right, wasn’t without moments of controversy. In the first inning Hailstone launched a ball near the foul pole at the 900 foot mark in right field. The sky was darkening, the foul pole is no longer bright yellow; if it went left of the pole, it was fair, but right would mean foul. No matter what the ump said, both teams would be upset, though few people at the game had a good view. It was called foul, angering Gillespie.
In the fifth inning Miner rally, Reiniesch’s double down the left field line was called fair after it was cut off in foul territory; again few people in or at the game were in a position to see where it was when/before it went over the base. Hillsboro was angry. No matter, the game is now official. Gillespie is 6-2, 1-0; Hillsboro is 2-3, 0-1.
Tuesday afternoon’s game at Vandalia was postponed by the weather; it was non-conference. The next two scheduled games, at Springfield Lutheran yesterday (Wednesday, May 5) and at Roxana today, May 6, will be reported in next Monday’s Journal-News.
Pana will be here for a conference game next Monday; game time is 4:30.
May 3 at Hillsboro
Gillespie 001 054 0 10 12 3
Hillsboro 026 001 0 9 7 2
Gillespie IP R ER H K BB
Cunningham 2 7 5 6 2 4
Bultema 5 2 0 0 7 1
Hillsboro IP R ER H K BB
Grossenheider 4.1 3 3 5 6 5
Matoush 0.2 3 3 4 1 1
Tuetken 0.2 3 3 1 0 2
Vogel 0 1 0 1 0 1
Anderson 1.1 0 0 0 1 0
*Anderson 1 HBP
Multiple Hits: Gillespie - Ayden Madeline 3-4, Cameron Hailstone 2-4, Zach Reiniesch 2-4; Hillsboro - Jace Tuetken 2-4. 2B: Gillespie - Ayden madeline 1, Zach Reiniesch 1, Kamryn Link 1. Runs: Hillsboro - Gavin Matoush 2, Jace Tuetken 2, Deklan Riggs 1, Drake Vogel 1, Dillon Smail 1, Hayden Grosenheider 1, Owen Anderson 1. RBI: Hillsboro - Blaze Helton 2, Deklan Riggs 2, Gavin Matoush 1, Hayden Grosenheider 1, Dillon Smail 1, Devin Speiser 1.
Records: Gillespie (6-2, 1-0); Hillsboro (2-3, 0-1).