The Hillsboro Spartans were the first team to hold Dr. Barney under ten runs in a game this summer, when they lost a 5-4 heartbreaker at Southridge High School on Friday. In the teams’ second meeting of the OIBA season, the Skyhawks were back to their slugging selves.
The Southridge squad rapped out 15 hits and took advantage of six Hillsboro errors, but still had to fight off the Spartans to the end, winning 12-9 at Rutschman Stadium on Monday, sweeping the two-game Olin Division series.
With the win, the Skyhawks improved to 4-1 on the summer season and dropped Hillsboro to 2-5.
Southridge had a 9-0 lead and appeared to be cruising to an easy win before Hillsboro scored seven unanswered runs to close the gap to 9-7 entering the fifth inning. Skyhawks reliever Will Wheeler limited Hillsboro to a single hit over the final three innings as Dr. Barney added insurance runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Still, Hilhi caused some tense moments in the final frame, loading the bases on an error, hit batter and walk and bringing the tying run to the plate before Wheeler fanned Colin Turnbaugh to end the game.
Joe Ball, who was 3-for-3 with a homer and two RBI in the opening game of the series, added four more hits and four runs batted in before departing the game with a sore shoulder after failing to make a diving catch of Marcus Himes’ bloop single in the fifth inning. Ball and Conner Fajardo each scored two runs for the Skyhawks.
A throwing error by Hillsboro starting pitcher Daniel Kitchens opened the door for an eight-run third inning as the Skyhawks sent 12 men to the plate and racked up seven hits, capped by Ball’s two-out, two-run single.
Hillsboro responded by loading the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the third before Kitchens sent a hard ground ball under the glove of Dr. Barney second baseman Derek Salinas. Two runs scored on the play, but Turnbaugh was caught rounding second base too far and tagged out. Curran Mitzel followed with a swinging strikeout on a hit-and-run play as Kitchens was gunned down at second by Southridge catcher Mark Walstrom to end the inning.
In the fourth, the Spartans again got three consecutive hits. Colin Gray singled to shallow right center to drive in Myles Littlejohn. Himes scored on Damon Siquina’s ground out to short. After a hit batter and walk, Kitchens sent a grounder to third that should have ended the inning, but Cam Carlson’s throw sailed high over the head of first baseman Steele Peterson as two more runners crossed the plate and Hilhi was right back in the game.
The Skyhawks got two runs back in the fifth when Fajardo walked, stole second and scored on Ball’s single to left center. With two outs, Zach Hald drove a Josh O’Neal pitch to deep center with Ball scoring on the double to push the lead back to four runs, while Wheeler held the Spartans in check until the seventh.
With the bases loaded an one out, Wheeler plunked Siquina in the backside, scoring O’Neal. That brought junior Shalkar Wilkins to the plate representing the tying run. Wilkins hit a slow grounder toward short. Sophomore shortsop Michael Ball, Joe’s younger brother, charged the ball and made a strong, off-balance throw to first base just in time to nab Wilkins for a big second out as Littlejohn scored on the play. Wheeler nailed down the win by catching Turnbaugh looking at strike three for his fourth strikeout of the game.
Wheeler surrendered one hit and two unearned runs with two walks and two hits batters. Kitchens was charged with the loss for Hilhi, but only three of the nine runs he allowed over three innings were earned.
Himes and Littlejohn each had two of the Spartans’ nine hits. Littlejohn and Wilkins each scored two runs and Siquina had two runs batted in.