A full moon peeked out from a shroud of gray clouds at about the fifth inning of the Hillsboro High School baseball team’s second game with Kingman on Thursday in Hillsboro. The craziness to which the glowing sphere is linked had already arrived on the diamond.
Here is what had already happened before the Trojans started their comeback from a 6-4 deficit in the bottom of the seventh inning:
- Hillsboro nearly completed a comeback from an 11-2 deficit in the first game against the Eagles. The Trojan lineup batted around once and was into a second cycle before the second Kingman pitcher of the final half inning ended the scoring barrage.
- In the top of the sixth inning of the second game, a dropped third strike pitched by Kale Arnold, one of seven strikeouts by the hurler, advanced Eagle runner Austin Massey to third and allowed hitter Will Cousins to reach safely at first. Hillsboro catcher Lucas Sinclair fielded the ball and threw to second to try to get Massey running to second. Both second baseman David Dick and Cody Delk covered the base and the miscommunication forced Dick to drop the ball, which skittered into left field.
- Dick, up first to start the bottom of the sixth, was hit by a pitch. He then advanced to second on one balk, advanced to third on a single by Delk, and scored on another balk. Kingman pitcher Eric Crowe was guilty of three balks in the inning.
- Sinclair came to the plate with one out in the sixth and the bases loaded. He hit a looping fly ball to center field, which was caught cleanly by Trey Johnson. Delk ran mid-way between third base and the plate before sprinting back to third to tag up. On Delk’s dash to the plate, Massey delivered a two-bounce dart to the dish. Delk was still two steps from home when he attempted to leap over catcher Austin Taylor. He was tagged out on his torso on his descent.
The recipe for Hillsboro’s comeback in seventh went like this:
- One Arnold hit by pitch.
- One Nathan Unruh walk.
- One Aaron Wintermote walk.
- A Dick bloop single that scored Arnold.
- A Kyle Ogle plate appearance; the home plate umpire consequently forgot he batted as the Trojans’ designated hitter in the sixth inning.
- One Ogle sacrifice fly to right field.
- One Nathan Unruh sprint home on the tag up. He eluded a tag following a laser from Kingman right fielder Massey.
“I thought I was out,” Unruh said of watching the play develop from third base.
- Remember to cook all ingredients in the pressure cooker of a seventh inning of a must win game. The Trojans did not want to fall to 1-6 to start the season.
“We were desperate to win,” Unruh said.
With a stranglehold on the momentum of the game and the home fans cheering them on, it would make sense that the Trojans would pull off the victory in regulation. It was not the type of game that made sense. The inning ended when David Kelsey shot a ground ball up the third base line that was backhanded by Crowe who tagged third for the final out.
Even with a pitch count over 100, Arnold took the mound for the eighth inning.
“He seems to get stronger as the game goes on,” head coach Doug Dick said.
Arnold gave up a single to start the inning. The next batter rocketed the ball straight up the middle directly into Arnold’s glove, more in position to defend his head than anything. The runner on first was half way up the base path when Arnold easily converted the double play.
“That took the wind out of their sails,” coach Dick said.
Arnold proceeded to strike out the next batter on a curve ball.
Like he had in the seventh inning, Arnold started the eighth at the plate and drew a walk. Freshman Jakob Hanschu went in to pinch run for Arnold. He proceeded to steal second and third base with Unruh at the dish.
Making sure that no funny business could prolong the game to a ninth inning. Unruh lined a curving single into right field to end the game.
“I just thought I needed to get a hit,” Unruh said.
Unruh was the Trojans’ top hitter for the night. He went 3-5 in two games with 2 RBIs, a run, and two triples.
Coach Dick said Unruh has really been hitting well in practice and was poised to break out. An injury to Jordan Faul in game one against Kingman also raised him from the six hole to the five spot.
Faul was hit in the ankle covering a play at second base. Coach Dick said he should not miss much time.