Three sparkling Hillsboro plays, two defensive and one offensive, helped seal the fate of the Piasa Southwestern baseball Birds when they visited Hillsboro Wednesday night, May 8, to conclude South Central Conference play. The Toppers won 8-5 to finish 5-4 in the conference while the Birds finished 3-6.
One of the defensive plays came in the top of the second with Hillsboro ahead 3-0. Sophomore Jace Tuetken started on the mound for the Toppers, and he struggled a bit early. The visitors left the bases loaded in the first, though they had no hits, threatening because of a walk, a hit batsman, and an infield error; a single by A. Watts and a walk to A. Sorgea had two on with no one out leading off the second.
Bird pitcher B. Bergosch sacrificed the runners to third and second with the lead-off batter, I. Marshall, coming to the plate. He lined the ball toward right field, but Topper first baseman Jordan Gregg used his 6'4" height and his best vertical leap to glove the line drive, then threw to second to double off Sorgea, ending the inning and the threat.
The defense lifted Tuetken again in the fourth after he'd given up a single run in the third. He still enjoyed a 5-1 lead, but the Birds scored another as Ryne Hanslow had an RBI groundout to third for the first out of the inning. The next batter pulled the ball to third baseman Nic Ondrey charging from third; in turn, his throw to catcher Drake Vogel nabbed the Bird runner trying to score. When Ondrey earned the assist in the next (and last) out of the inning, he had three assists in the inning and kept Hillsboro ahead 5-2. Tuetken worked a 1-2-3 inning in the fifth and Hillsboro added two insurance runs in their half.
The Toppers turned a walk to Lemon; singles by King, Gregg, and Ondrey; and a steal of third by Gregg, who scored as the throw to third sailed down the left field line, into three first inning runs. With one out in the second, Lemon reached on an error but then was forced at second, by Landon Carroll. With two out, King drilled an RBI triple into the right field corner. He scored on an overthrow.
The two runs in the fourth gave Tuetken a comfort level from which to pitch the fifth. With one out, Ty White singled and took second on a wild pitch. Lemon followed with an RBI double and surprised the Birds by scoring from second on a ground ball by Carroll to second. 7-2 is a nicer lead to protect than 5-2. That was the key offensive play.
Drew Willman replaced Tuetken in the sixth, and the Birds attacked. Willman, like Tuetken, a sophomore, was touched for a double and two singles before he recorded a strikeout. Tyler Seyfried singled in two more in front of another hit, so the tying run was on first. However, a fly ball that dropped in short center became a force out at second; when Brock Bellaver caught a fly ball to left, the Birds' threat was over.
Hillsboro added on in their sixth (Bellaver singled, stole second, and scored on Carroll's RBI single). King finished the game on the mound for the Toppers, throwing 12 pitches to earn his third save of the season. It was a fitting end to the Toppers' home season.
The regular season ends today, Monday, May 13, as Hillsboro travels to Kinmundy to play South Central as both teams grab a last chance to prepare for the post season.
The Toppers are in the Greenville Regional but don't play there until Thursday, May 16, when they face the host Comets at 4:30. Monday Litchfield plays Vandalia, and the winner of that contest plays Teutopolis on Wednesday, May 15. The winner of the Topper/Comet Thursday tussle will be in the regional final at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 18.
May 8 at Hillsboro
Southwestern 001 103 0 5 9 2
Hillsboro 320 201 x 8 10 1
Southwestern IP R ER H K BB
Brandon 1 1 1 2 1 0
Hillsboro IP R ER H K BB
W-Tuetken 5 2 2 4 2 5
Willman 1 3 3 5 1 0
King 1 0 0 0 1 0
Multiple Hits: Southwestern - Brian Bergesch (2-3); Hillsboro - Jordan Gregg (2-3, 1R, 1RBI), Griffin King (2-4, 2R, 1RBI). 2B: Southwestern - Ashtin Sorgea 1; Hillsboro - Kaden Lemon 1. 3B: Hillsboro - Griffin King 1.
Records: Southwestern (9-19, 3-6); Hillsboro (11-9, 5-4).
Class 2A Baseball
Monday, May 13
Game 1: 4:30 p.m. - (10) Litchfield at (6) Vandalia
Wednesday, May 15
Game 2: 4:30 p.m. - (2) Teutopolis vs. Winner Game 1
Thursday, May 16
Game 3: 4:30 p.m. - (3) Greenville vs. (5) Hillsboro
Saturday, May 18
Game 4: 1 p.m. - Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3