Like the 4-4 team they are, the Hillsboro baseball Trojans had ups and downs Monday against Smoky Valley.
It was a promising sign when the Trojans won the first game with a seventh inning rally; however, they needed a lot of help.
The game was tied at four to start the frame. Josh Funk led off, batting ninth, and hit a single to right field. David Dick then reached on a walk. Jordan Faul was safe after a muffed ground ball by the Smoky Valley first baseman. On almost the exact same play, Funk scored when Vikings’ first baseman flubbed another grounder from Lucas Sinclair.
The Trojans were stymied in a game two loss, 5-1, by Smoky Valley hurler Andy Osner in a complete game effort.
“He’s a good lefty, he has good stuff,” head coach Doug Dick said. “He throws a knuckle curve. When that pitch is on, it’s effective.”
Corner infielders Kale Arnold and Nathan Unruh continue to rake in the heart of the lineup. First baseman Arnold went 2-for-4 in the first game. He had an RBI double and reached base in all four plate appearances with the benefit of errors. Even though he was battling an ailment, he was one of six Trojans to record a hit in the second game, getting the only RBI.
Third baseman Unruh had an RBI triple in the first game that almost reached the warning track in deep right field. He hit another scorcher in game two, a double deep into left-center field.
Shortstop Jordan Faul had two hits in the first game and another single in the second. Lucas Sinclair scored the Trojans only run in game two after reaching on an error. Other than that, the Trojans struggled to get on base.
Head coach Doug Dick shuffled around his lineup on Monday using center fielder Jakob Hanschu to lead off and moving left fielder Micah Allen down in the order. Hanschu had a base knock in the second game but Allen still struggled.
“I’m trying to break Micah out of a slump,” Dick said.
The lineup moves had an unintended consequence with David Dick, ascending to sixth in the order. The second baseman had been hitting well, but struggled to get on base against Smoky Valley.
Daniel Nelson had a strong outing in his first varsity start in game one. He pitched five innings and surrendered two earned runs. Sinclair came in and finished the game.
Hanschu was out after two innings in his first start in game two, allowing three runs in the second inning. Josh Davidson came in, pitched the final five innings, and only had one bad inning where he committed back-to-back errors on one play and allowed a run to score.
“Josh is not overpowering but he throws strikes,” Dick said.
Dick was pleased with the defensive effort on Monday. He said the Trojans’ defense was key in two losses at Kingman on Friday. The Trojans lost the first game against the Eagles, 12-11, leading until the sixth inning. The Trojans lost the second game, 11-8.
“If we played defense like we did tonight, we would have swept Kingman,” Dick said. “Those were two winnable games.”
Faul had two double plays at short in the second game; both were soft grounders just on the third-base side of the second base bag.
Unruh made a diving stop to end the sixth inning in game two. He snared the sharply hit ground ball near third base and then tapped the bag for the out with the runner encroaching from second base.
“That was a good play,” Dick said.
Dick said it is imperative that the Trojans take three of the next four games. Hillsboro plays at Canton Galva on Friday and then plays Sunrise Christian at home on Tuesday.