When the first three batters reached base and then scored when Hillsboro opened the baseball season in Taylorville Monday afternoon, April 26, the tone was set; when the first three Tornado batters reached base only one scored, and confidence in the Topper dugout rose. That 3-1 lead wasn’t solidified until Hillsboro scored eight runs in the final two innings, however, as they brought home a 15-4 victory.
Pitcher Tucker Tippitt hit lead-off batter Devin Speiser to start the action. Dillon Smail doubled to the center field gap to drive Speiser in with the Toppers’ first run of the season. Drake Vogel singled Smail to third, sending Smail to third. After Vogel stole second, Gavin Matoush’s sacrifice fly to center scored Smail, with Vogel taking third. Batting fifth, Jace Tuetken’s sacrifice fly plated Vogel to end a fundamentally sound and impressive beginning.
The Tornadoes threatened immediately as their lead-off man, Casey Stickel, tripled to deep left to greet Topper starter Hayden Grosenheider. Karter Ostermeier singled to center to plate Stickel before Kamren Heimsness walked, but then Grosenheider brought order to the game, inducing two pop-ups and a line drive out to stop the damage.
In their half of the second, Taylorville scored three to take their only lead of the contest, alternating a walk and a single with a fly ball out to Brady Meier in left before an error and an Ostermeier double threatened to allow the home team a big inning. However, Grosenheider ended the threat, coaxing another fly to left and a pop-up to third; one of the runs was unearned. Taylorville wouldn’t score again.
The Toppers tied the contest in the third when Tuetken reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second, and scored on a two-out single by Blaze Helton.
The tie was broken in the Topper fourth. Owen Anderson, brought in to pitch early in the third, walked leading off and went to third when Speiser reached as the pitcher threw his ground ball into center field while attempting a force play. After Speiser moved to second on a wild pitch that scored Anderson, Vogel doubled. Matoush grounded to second, scoring Speiser; Tuetken singled, scoring Vogel, and Hillsboro led 7-4.
Anderson pitched two scoreless innings to gain the mound win; Matoush pitched three shutout innings to earn a save. The lead grew by two in the sixth when Vogel singled and Tuetken walked; both scored on wild pitches.
The defensive gems of the game were turned in by Tuetken, who charged two different slow rollers in thick grass to third to throw out batters at first, and by Vogel, who twice caught fly balls near the line in short left field despite the strong wind blowing them away from him.
Hillsboro batted around in the top of the seventh as Taylorville pitchers walked five and surrendered a single to Tuetken and doubles to Matoush and Ian Malloy to make the team’s 2021 debut a resounding success. Taylorville fell to 1-1.
April 26 at Taylorville
Hillsboro 301 302 6 15 11 2
Taylorville 130 000 0 4 7 3
Hillsboro IP R ER H K BB
Grosenheider 2 4 3 5 0 2
W-Anderson 2 0 0 1 0 1
Matoush 3 0 0 1 1 2
Hillsboro Batting Statistics
Multiple Hits: Drake Vogel 3-4, Dillon Smail 2-4, Jace Tuetken 2-3. 2B: Dillon Smail 1, Drake Vogel 1, Ian Malloy 1. Runs: Drake Vogel 4, Jace Tuetken 3, Devin Speiser 3, Dillon Smail 2, Preston Lyerla 1, Ian Malloy 1, Owen Anderson 1. RBI: Gavin Matoush 4, Ian Malloy 2, Jace Tuetken 2, Drake Vogel 1, Dillon Smail 1, Blaze Helton 1.
Record: Hillsboro (1-0).
When Greenville High’s baseball team came to Hillsboro Tuesday evening, April 27, the Comets were looking for their first victory of the young season after an 0-4 beginning; the Toppers’ win at Taylorville Monday had been their only action because an opening doubleheader against Lincoln had been a victim of rain.
The resultant game wasn’t particularly well played, but it was close until the top of the seventh. Each team had reason to be optimistic as the Toppers grabbed an 8-7 lead after falling behind 7-3.
Topper starting pitcher Jace Tuetken was wild inside as he hit three of the 13 batters he faced, including lead-off hitter Tommy Baker as the Comets used small ball to score first. Mason Barnes sacrificed Baker to second before Chase Bellegante singled him home. Bellegante stole second, and with two out, scored from there as Clayton Danneman (who eventually pitched three strong innings as relief to secure the win) singled. Danneman was caught in a rundown between first and second to end the inning.
Hillsboro scored three runs in the bottom of the first off starter Mason Barnes (Donavan Smail walked, Drake Vogel singled, and Gavin Matoush reached on an error which allowed Smail to score.) Hayden Grosenheider drove in Matoush with a fielder’s choice ground-out after Vogel scored on another error on a grounder hit by Tuetken.
Greenville scored five in retaliation as Tuetken hit two more batters and walked two while giving up two hits. Hayden Jack’s single drove in two runs before Devin Speiser came to the mound to record the final out of the inning.
Speiser pitched effectively, giving up only two hits and no runs as he worked through the fifth. At the end of his stint the Toppers lead 8-7. Smail and Drew Willman scored in the second; Grosenheider walked and scored in the third; and Smail and Matoush scored in the fourth, with Matoush and Blaze Helton collecting RBIs. (Helton, the catcher, threw out two Comets trying to steal second as well.)
Dannaman moved from first to the mound as Hillsboro batted in the bottom of the fifth. Only Speiser and Tuetken had hits over his three innings of work as he faced only ten batters. Greenville, however, scored two in their sixth off Vogel, making his first mound appearance of the season, to grab a 9-8 lead. Then they salted it away with four more in their half of the seventh. Two Comets reached on errors and scored in the fatal ninth.
The game was non-conference; the teams meet again in conference action in Greenville on May 20. Friday the Toppers are scheduled to play North Mac there at 4:30 p.m.; this Saturday, May 1, Petersburg PORTA will be here for a 10 a.m. contest.
April 27 at Hillsboro
Greenville 250 002 4 13 9 5
Hillsboro 321 200 0 8 9 5
Hillsboro IP R ER H K BB
Tuetken 1.2 7 7 4 1 2
Speiser 3.1 0 0 0 3 3
Vogel 1.2 6 1 5 0 1
Riggs 0.1 0 0 0 1 0
Hillsboro Batting Statistics
Multiple Hits: Blaze Helton 2-3. Runs: Dillon Smail 3, Gavin Matoush 2, Drake Vogel 1, Drew Willman 1, Hayden Grosenheider 1. RBI: Gavin Matoush 2, Hayden Grosenheider 1, Blaze Helton 1.
Record: Hillsboro (1-1); Greenville (1-4).