Toppers Make It 7 Straight With Win Over Panthers

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Most likely neither team is happy with its offensive production in the latest Hillsboro/Litchfield baseball match-up at the Hillsboro Sports Complex on Monday, May 24, but the Toppers have to be happy with the game’s result.

Combining nine walks and two hit batsmen with their seven hits, the Toppers broke a 0-0 tie in the bottom of the third inning with three runs while adding nine in the fourth for a 12-1 short-game win.

Hillsboro’s freshman left-hander, Deklan Riggs, worked his second complete game of the season for his third win (the Toppers are now 10-7 and 3-3 in South Central Conference play) while surviving a self-created tough patch in the top of the fourth. Riggs gave the Purple Panthers only two hits (both doubles) while walking three and striking out nine in his five innings of work.

The Litchfield run came as lead-off hitter Jacob Frerichs walked, stole second, and scored as Jacob Budd stroked a wind-aided double to right field. Bryce Hires then walked; with no one out, clean-up hitter Blaine Stewart, sacrificed the runners into scoring position. At the time, they were the tying runs. After a mound visit by Coach Kyle McBrain, though, Riggs struck out the next two batters to end the threat with the bases loaded.

Riggs had allowed another hit, a double to freshman Jace Stewart in the third, but Stewart was erased by a double play when Drake Gasperson’s line drive was intercepted by Dillon Smail on its way to right field; Smail’s throw to Drake Vogel at second doubled the runner off to end the inning. Riggs’ pick-off move ended the first, so the visitors left-on-base total was a meager two.

Vogel’s two hits made him the only multiple hit contributor to the Topper offense, but Smail scored three of the twelve runs. The three in the fourth were enough to win; the nine in the fourth meant it could be a five (rather than a seven) inning game, in turn saving pitches thrown by the staff. Blaine Stewart, the Litchfield starter, surrendered a single to Vogel and a double to Jace Tuetken in the first, but a sparkling backhand catch of a Riggs drive by, Frerichs at first ended that threat; two pop-ups and a fly ball to right ended the second after Heyden Grosenheider drew a walk leading off.

Eight batters appeared in the Topper third, however, as each faced Stewart for the second time. Smail and Tuetken walked. Blaze Helton singled in Smail with the first run of the contest; Tuetken scored on a wild pitch; and Devin Speiser (courtesy runner for Helton) scored the third.

Thirteen Topper batters appeared in the fourth. Reliever Jordan Harris struck out the first man; then Smail was hit by a pitch and Vogel walked. Harris coaxed a fly ball to center as the second out, but a two-run single by Riggs opened the flood gates for the offense.

Grosenheider was struck by a pitch, Drew Willman walked, Ian Malloy as a pinch-hitter walked (earning an RBI), and Speiser, nowbatting in the ninth slot, hit a two-run single. Smail (a double) and Vogel (a single) each collected RBIs before reliever Ryan Baugher (father Toby was a Hillsboro High athlete in the late ‘80s) recorded the final Topper out.

Riggs finished strong, striking out the three pinch-hitters he faced in the fifth.

May 24 at Hillsboro

Litchfield 000 10 1 2 1

Hillsboro 003 9x 12 7 0

Pitching Statistics

Litchfield IP R ER H K BB

B. Stewart 3.0 6 6 3 2 6

Harris 0.2 5 5 2 1 4

Baugher 0.1 1 1 2 0 0

*Stewart 1 HBP, Harris 2 HBP

Hillsboro IP R ER H K BB

Riggs 5 1 1 2 9 3

Batting Statistics

Multiple Hits: Hillsboro - Drake Vogel 2-4. 2B: Litchfield - Jace Stewart 1; Hillsboro - Jace Tuetken 1, Dillon Smail 1. Runs: Litchfield - Jacob Frerichs 1; Hillsboro - Dillon Smail 3, Devin Speiser 2, Drake Vogel 1, Jace Tuetken 1, Blaze Helton 1, Deklan Riggs 1, Hayden Grosenheider 1, Drew Willman 1, Ian Malloy 1. RBI: Litchfield - Jacob Budd 1; Hillsboro - Drake Vogel 2, Devin Speiser 2, Deklan Riggs 2, Dillon Smail 1, Blaze Helton 1, Ian Malloy 1.

Record: Hillsboro (10-7, 3-3); Litchfield (2-8, 2-6).

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