Hillsboro freshman pitcher Dylan Nelson had a nightmare sequence in the third inning Tuesday against Marion in a regional game.
He gave up a double to Taylor Heidebrecht, the Marion leadoff hitter bounced off the left field wall, in between groundouts to shortstop Jordan Faul. With two outs, he then walked the next four Marion hitters walking in a run.
Marion catcher Caleb Williams didn’t let him off the hook with a two RBI double plastered into the outfield. A Zach Lewman single scored another run before Austin Pedersen popped out to Faul.
The next inning did not go much better. Dylan Seacat hit a single. Grif Case hit a two-run home run to left field. The Warriors were up 7-0 and knocked Nelson out of the game. Reliever Kale Arnold also gave up a home run to make the final score, 8-1.
These scenarios were why head coach Doug Dick debated heavily with which Hillsboro pitcher he wanted to start against Marion. He had the option to go with Arnold, the staff ace, but he wanted to save him for a possible regional final.
Dick said Arnold was a consultant in the decision with all of the Hillsboro seniors and pitchers. Assistant coach Aaron Stepanek had valuable input. Factors included Arnold’s struggles against Marion.
“It was in the back of his mind and my mind,” Dick said.
Dick thought Nelson’s lefty delivery and slew of off-speed pitches might stymie hitters. His off-speed stuff made it tough to throw strikes in a minuscule strike zone.
“That benefits the experienced guy and the confident guy, and Case was the experienced guy,” Dick said.
Case started on the mound for Marion. He allowed two base runners in the opening two innings and then clamped down for the rest of his outing starting with a 1-2-3 third. Dick said the Trojans lack of hitting was the reason they lost the game.
“The teams that have beat Marion have hit,” he said. “I mean gotten a lot of hits.”
Despite the inauspicious end to the season, Dick said it was a testament to his team’s work ethic that Nelson was even in the conversation to start a regional game. He pointed out Josh Funk and Jakob Hanschu as other players who have improved.