Topper Baseball To Play For Regional Crown

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It somehow seems unjust, but the last run in Hillsboro’s 9-8 win over higher-seeded Gillespie in the Regional B (Section 6) semi-final played at Gillespie Friday afternoon, June 4, was unearned. The Miners entered the games as the third seed, while the Toppers were seeded sixth, so the win was an upset of minor proportions.

The game featured dramatic extra base hits (Hillsboro had five doubles and a home run among their 10 hits; Gillespie had a double, a triple, and a home run -- 50% of their six hits). Even so, both teams had sparkling defensive play and good pitching scattered throughout the game to add to its drama.

Senior Hayden Grosenheider pitched into the sixth, surviving a four run Gillespie outburst in the third, powered by a Camaron Hailstone  three run home run to center field, and a four run bottom of the sixth -- a rally that ended whith Hillsboro right fielder Gavin Matoush’s running catch of a fly ball in foul territory. Deklan Riggs relieved Grosenheider with one out in the sixth; after walking in a run and giving up a single, Riggs threw a ground ball out to shortstop Drake Vogel and the foul fly to Matoush to strand the tying run on base. Then he struck out the side, all three swinging, in the seventh while allowing no base runners.

The Toppers scored single runs in the second (a Grosenheider home run, the first hit Miner starter Colton Bultema surrendered) and the third (Dillon Smail opened the frame with a double (his team-leading twelfth) and scored on a two-out double by Blaze Helton). Grosenheider held the lead until the Miner third.

Then, with one out (a falling down catch of a foul ball by Helton), the Miners turned a walk to CJ Frensko (who later scored the first Gillespie run on a wild pitch), a single by Preston Kaylor, a hit batsman, and Hailstone’s homer into a 4-2 lead. Seemingly  on the ropes, Grosenheider recovered by catching a high-in-the-air pop fly and recording a strikeout to strand the bases full.

Bultema, though, had the Topper offense on the ropes until the top of the fifth when his defense enabled a five-run rally. Smail reached on an error, and Vogel doubled him to third. Jace Tuetken singled both of them home to tie the score, then stole second. Bultema struck out the Topper clean-up hitter (his only out in the fourth), but Riggs pulled the ball to right to score the go-ahead run.

After designated hitter Ian Malloy greeted reliever Bryce Buhs with a single, Grosenheider walked to load the bases, and Matoush smacked a two-run double into the left field corner to score Riggs and Malloy. The Miners handled a relay play well to nab Grosenheider at the plate, though; that was the only out Buhs would record as Kamryn Link came on in relief.

Hillsboro reached Link for two runs in the top of the sixth. Vogel walked with one out and scored from first as Tuetken doubled into right center. Tuetken went to third on a wild pitch, then scored an insurance run on a passed ball. Though the score was 9-4, insurance was needed as Grosenheider battled fatigue and a rising pitch count in the bottom of the sixth.

After he struck out the first batter he faced, the fatigue surfaced as he walked Anthony Ribes and then hit Frensko; that brought the top of the batting order to the plate. Kaylor coaxed a walk to load the bases and to increase the hopes of the Miner crowd.

Riggs, a freshman lefthander, came in to walk Ayden Madeline to force in a run. It was 9-5; the bases were still loaded, and Hailstone was the next batter. His single to center drove in two; so it was 9-7, and an error (an overrun of the grounder) in center meant the tying run was on second as the eighth run scored.

Vogel, though, held that runner in place after fielding a ground ball to short before recording the second out at first. Then Matoush used his good hands (and sunglasses) to catch the foul ball in right.

Throwing hard if somewhat erratically, Link struck out the first two Toppers in their seventh before Smail’s fly to right was caught. That only set the stage for Riggs’ heroics in the bottom of the inning.

The win avenged a 10-9 Topper loss to the Miners in the first conference game for each. Gillespie’s season ended with a 15-10 record, while Hillsboro advances to the regional championship game against Pana in Pana today, Monday, June 7, at 4:30. The Toppers are 12-9 as they travel to face the South Central Conference champs who won the conference match-up between the two, 6-3, early in the season.

June 4 at Gillespie

Hillsboro 011 052 0 9 10 2

Gillespie 004 004 0 8 6 1

Pitching Statistics

Hillsboro IP R ER H K BB

Grosenheider 5.1 7 7 5 5 4

Riggs 1.2 1 0 1 3 1

*Grosenheider 2 HBP

Gillespie IP R ER H K BB

Bultema 4.1 6 5 4 2 2

Buhs 0.1 1 1 3 0 1

Link 2.1 2 1 1 5 2

*Link 1 HBP

Batting Statistics

Multiple Hits: Hillsboro - Jace Tuetken 2-3, Ian Malloy 2-3; Gillespie - Kamryn Link 2-4, Cameron Hailstone 2-4. 2B: Hillsboro - Dillon Smail 1, Drake Vogel 1, Jace Tuetken 1, Blaze Helton 1, Gavin Matoush 1; Gillespie - Kamryn Link 1. HR:  Hillsboro - Hayden Grosenheider 1; Gillespie - Cameron Hailstone 1. Runs: Hillsboro - Dillon Smail 2, Drake Vogel 2, Jace Tuetken 2, Deklan Riggs 1, Ian Malloy 1, Hayden Grosenheider 1. RBI: Hillsboro - Jace Tuetken 3, Gavin Matoush 2, Blaze Helton 1, Deklan Riggs 1, Hayden Grosenheider 1.

Records: Hillsboro (12-9); Gillespie (15-10).

Toppers Fall In Last Regular Season Game

For a non-partisan fan the baseball game played in Hillsboro to close the South Central Conference and regular season schedules for the visiting Vandalia Vandals and the Toppers was an artistic success as neither team committed an error, walks were few, and, until the last pitch, both teams had a chance to win. For the victorious Vandals, whose four runs came in the first three innings, it was an emotional success too if winning the game is the standard used; for the Toppers, who lost 4-2 despite outhitting the visitors 11-6, it was a disappointment.

Both Topper runs came after Vandalia pitcher Reid Well threw a shutout for five innings as he stranded eight base-runners. He was helped by two double plays, a strong-armed catcher (Mitch Casey threw out the only Topper who attempted to steal second), and above average defensive play in center field by Carson Ruot.

Offensively the Vandals scored one in the first with two out; Jayden Lotz singled and was tripled home by Conner Ray. Aiden Polite walked to begin the inning and moved to third on a double by Nic Rosborough; consecutive sacrifice flies by Ruot and Cayden Hipsher made it 3-0.

Gavin Matoush took over mound duties in the third; Matthew Hagy greeted him with a double, reached third via a wild pitch, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Lotz. Matoush then retired the 12 batters he faced over the last four innings to give the Toppers a chance for a comeback.

Blaze Helton and Deklan Riggs singled to open the bottom of the sixth; a well-turned 6-4-3 double play lessened the threat, but the shut out was broken when Hayden Grosenheider singled courtesy runner Owen Anderson in from third. A Devin Speiser single followed, but Ruot ran down Drew Willman’s long drive in the left center field gap to end the threat.

Dillon Smail’s triple to right center leading off the seventh made the hope tide rise again, but he was still there two outs later. Helton then drew a walk (he, Drake Vogel, Smail, and Riggs each had two hits on the day, but Well scattered them) before Riggs singled to send Smail home. Sadly for Topper fans, Well’s complete game effort was rewarded when the last out was recorded next.

Vandalia finished the regular season 5-4 in conference play; Hillsboro, suffering their second consecutive loss after a nine game winning streak, was 4-5. Overall the Vandals, who downed Hillsboro 12-2 in non-conference play there on May 4, were 11-13 for the regular season; the Toppers were 11-9.

Vandalia’s first regional opponent was Newton; the Toppers faced Gillespie there on Friday, June 4.

June 2 at Hillsboro

Vandalia 121 000 0 4 6 0

Hillsboro 000 001 1 2 11 0

Pitching Statistics

Vandalia IP R ER H K BB

Well 7 2 2 11 3 3

*Well 1 HBP

Hillsboro IP R ER H K BB

Tuetken 2 3 3 4 1 1

Matoush 5 1 1 2 2 0

Batting Statistics

Multiple Hits: Vandalia - Conner Ray 2-3; Hillsboro - Drake Vogel 2-3, Blaze Helton 2-3, Dillon Smail 2-4, Deklan Riggs 2-4. 2B: Vandalia - Matthew Hagy 1, Nic Rosborough 1; Hillsboro - Drake Vogel 1, Dillon Smail 1. 3B: Vandalia - Conner Ray 1; Hillsboro - Dillon Smail 1. Runs: Hillsboro - Dillon Smail 1, Owen Anderson 1. RBI: Hillsboro - Deklan Riggs 1, Hayden Grosenheider 1.

Records: Hillsboro (11-9, 4-5); Vandalia (11-13, 5-4).

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