One bad hop may have been the difference between Hillsboro baseball starting the season 1-1 and 2-0 Friday against Little River.
The first game of the doubleheader was tied at 5 with two outs in the sixth inning when a seemingly routine groundball bounced high over the Trojans’ shortstop’s head, allowing a runner on second base to score, giving the Redskins a 6-5 lead and eventual victory.
Little River took a 3-0 lead in the first inning, but Hillsboro came back with a big third inning. Dylan Nelson, Braden Vogt, and Micah Allen loaded the bases with no outs, and Cody Delk drove in a run with a grounder, reaching base on an error by Little River. Jordan Faul hit a sacrifice fly, and Allen scored with a steal of home while Little River failed to throw Delk out stealing second. Justus Hilliard and David Dick drove in the final runs of the inning to take a 5-3 lead.
The Redskins scored one run each in the fourth and fifth innings to tie the game before scoring the eventual winning run in the sixth inning. Faul, Delk, and starting pitcher Austin Cross combined to throw 11 strikeouts in the game.
Lefty pitcher Nelson struck out five batters over five innings as Hillsboro built a 3-1 lead. Nelson helped his own case on offense, driving in Hillsboro’s first run with a single to right field in the second inning. Cross added another run with an RBI double with two outs in the third inning, and Nelson added another RBI in the fourth inning, driving in Dick, who had hit a triple down the right field line.
Vogt, a freshman, made his first pitching appearance relieving Nelson in the sixth inning. He proceeded to strike out the first two batters he faced before giving up an infield single. He closed the inning with another strikeout.
Hillsboro added five insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Caleb Bettles drove in a run and reached base with a safety squeeze bunt. Vogt helped himself with a single to right field, driving in two runs. Faul added two more runs with a two-out single up the middle.
Those insurance runs were important, as Little River added three runs in the top of the seventh, but Hillsboro won 8-4. Nelson earned his first win of the season, and Vogt was credited with a save.
Tuesday at Nickerson
The Trojans defeated the Nickerson Panthers twice Tuesday, winning both games 5-4.
The Trojans’ next doubleheader is Tuesday at Smoky Valley in Lindsborg.