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Trojan baseball loses heartbreaker to Silver Lake

Staff writer

The Hillsboro High School baseball team loaded the bases twice but went down in defeat, 6-5, in the seventh inning against Silver Lake Friday in the first-round game of the 3A state tournament in Manhattan.

Leadoff batter Luke Moore walked after getting ahead in the count on three consecutive high fastballs. He then stole second base before left fielder Derek Kelsey hit a short grounder to pitcher Dylan Backman that moved Moore to third. Catcher Aaron Bina was hit by a backdoor curveball and cleanup hitter Ben Gardner walked on four consecutive balls. Without recording a hit, the Trojans had a prime opportunity to take back the lead in a game they had led for six innings.

Shortstop Lucas Sinclair was hit by a pitch on a 2-2 fastball to score Moore. Hillsboro pitcher Dylan Delk was up next but struck out looking on a curve after Backman went ahead 0-2 on consecutive fastballs; Delk went 1-for-4 in the game and missed an opportunity for redemption after surrendering a 4-2 lead in the top of the seventh inning as Hillsboro’s starting pitcher.

Delk forced Silver Lake right fielder Jeffrey Rosebraugh to ground out to Gardner at third to start the seventh inning; Gardner charged the sharply hit ground ball and threw a bullet to Arnold to catch Rosebraugh by several steps.

However, Silver Lake’s first baseman, Jordan Haverkamp, hit a double over Kelsey’s head. A passed ball allowed Delk’s starting counterpart, Travis Brown, to drive Haverkamp in on a single over Gardner’s head at third.

The Trojans were still up 1 run when Backman added his own single. With two more Eagles on base, coach Doug Dick went out to talk to Delk, but left the senior in the game.

“Dylan, through that point, had pitched a good game,” Dick said. “I debated putting Gardner in. I trusted him; he’s a senior.

“He’s a kid who lives on the corners,” Dick said. “I just told him to come back and throw strikes.”

Delk proceeded to get behind catcher Peter Phannastiel before walking him on four pitches. Center fielder Cameron Rickel hit a sacrifice pop fly to Moore in center field to score Brown and tie the game.

Bina went to consult Delk but third baseman Chase Ray added a double that scored Backman and Phannastiel.

Dick also figured Delk would find a way to wiggle out of trouble; he had allowed multiple base runners in the second, fourth, and fifth innings. Two Silver Lake runners hit singles to start the second after they waited for fastballs that arrived on second pitches in their at-bats.

Delk adjusted to throw two straight curveballs for strikes and then punched out the batter with a high fastball. He then forced the final batter to pop out to left field after getting ahead 0-2 on curveballs.

In the fourth, Delk used sharp Hillsboro defense to his advantage; the Trojans recorded the three outs at second base. The first batter reached on a single but was thrown out at second by Sinclair who caught a tough hop to his left cleanly. The batter reached at first, but was later thrown out at second by Gardner who charged a ground ball. After a walk, Sinclair again played the ball cleanly off the field turf for the out at second.

The Trojans adjusted to the different playing surface in Manhattan by using the field turf at Hillsboro’s football stadium to practice fast grounders and funny hops turf produces.

“We took a lot of ground balls off of it,” Dick said. “We were ready.”

The speed of the field also helped the Trojans turn a 5-4-3 double play in the third inning.

After a shaky fifth inning where he gave up 2 runs, Delk pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning that bolstered Dick’s confidence.

Delk struck out four in the game, surrendered nine hits, and walked six batters.

Hillsboro also made adjustments at the plate. They started the game swinging on first pitch fastballs from Brown, trying to jump on the Silver Lake hurler. Bina recorded a double in the first and went 2-for-3 in the game. His second hit scored designated hitter Jordan Faul and Moore on a single in the third inning. Faul started the inning with a hit on a 1-2 curve ball. In the third inning, the Trojans waited for curveballs later in counts to record hits or walk.

“He’s a gamer,” Dick said of Bina. “He lives for these kinds of games.”

With a new pitcher on the mound in the seventh, the Trojans could not make enough adjustments at the plate to win the game. Arnold struck out looking on a 2-2 curveball to end the game with a Silver Lake victory.

“The seniors I feel bad for them. I’m going to miss all the seniors,” Dick said. “I’m proud of the guys. It sucks going home; we were ahead until the seventh inning.”

Although Silver Lake went into the tournament with a 16-7 record Dick thought that was a product of a tough schedule, which included 6A powerhouse Washburn Rural, 4A teams Holten and Wamego, and competitive 3A schools Riley County, St. Mary’s, and Jefferson County North.

“They played a really tough schedule,” Dick said. “They’re the best team in this tournament.”

Dick proved to be right. The game against Hillsboro Friday was the Eagles closest contest in the tournament en route to a state championship. Saturday morning they defeated eighth seed Frontenac, 11-2. Silver Lake then defeated Hays Thomas Moore Prep, 21-8, in the championship game.

Hitting stats

Moore — 1-2; 2 R, 2 RBI

Kelsey — 0-3

Bina — 2-3; 2 RBI

Gardner — 0-2

Sinclair — 0-2; RBI

Delk — 1-4; R

Arnold — 0-4; sacrifice bunt

Faul — 1-3; R

Matt Martin — 1-3; R

Last modified June 2, 2011

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