The Hillsboro Trojans rolled into Marion on Friday with hopes of claiming two wins to perk up an otherwise lackluster season. The Warriors wanted two wins to bolster their chances of a first-round bye in the upcoming regional tournament.
Neither team got what they wanted. Hillsboro stunned Marion with four runs in the first inning of the opening game en route to a 6-2 victory. The Warriors turned the tables in the nightcap by claiming a 6-0 win.
Marion starter Austin Pederson didn’t last the first inning of the first game, giving up 3 hits and 4 walks that led to 4 Trojan runs.
“I would have loved to have get him through that first inning. He never got settled in,” Marion head coach Roger Schroeder said.
The Warriors got into trouble when they failed to get a force-out at second base after a looping hit to center field. The Trojans had runners at second and first with no outs, rather than a lone runner with one out.
“We had a play at second base, and we threw the ball high and we didn’t get the out. It changed the complexion of the inning,” Schroeder said. “Otherwise, you’re a ground ball out of the inning.”
Taylor Heidebrecht relieved Pederson with two outs, got out of the inning, and went on to finish the game yielding 2 runs on 3 hits and 4 walks.
The 4 first-inning runs proved to be enough for the Trojans against a Warrior battery that couldn’t find the gaps in Hillsboro’s defense. Zach Robson and Caleb Williams made their solo hits count by knocking in runs, but the rest of the lineup mustered only two hits in the game.
“I’m still trying to analyze it. We just couldn’t get anything going,” Schroeder said. “We gave up a four-run lead before we got to the plate, and psychologically that’s hard. I’m just disappointed to give a game away like that.”
The givers became takers in the second game. Ethan Hett turned in a strong performance on the mound, and the Warriors came alive at the plate, scattering 11 hits that led to 6 runs.
Hett had good command of his pitches, benefiting from pitching with a lead after the first inning. He yielded only 5 hits and allowed one runner to reach base on a walk.
“That’s his best outing in his last three. This was a big step for him to get him ready for the regional,” Schroeder said.
Hett and David Helmer were the most prolific hitters for the Warriors in the second game. Helmer was 3-for-3 with an RBI, and Hett was 3-for-4 at the plate with an RBI. Dylan Seacat collected 2 RBIs on 2-for-4 hitting.
While Schroeder was pleased his team notched another win, he said their overall play defensively and at the plate showed there’s still room for improvement before regionals.
“We didn’t take care of the ball well,” Schroeder said. “We played uncharacteristically bad defense tonight, because we had been fielding pretty well. We hit the ball OK in the second game, we put up six runs, but our bats need to be more disciplined all the way around, one through nine.”
The Warriors had their final tuneup before regionals Tuesday at Hoisington, and Schroeder said the Warrirors needed to end the regular season with wins.
“I’m not looking past Tuesday. We’ve got to worry about closing out the season on a good note. Win two games, take a little three game streak into the regional, that’s our goal,” Schroeder said.
Marion is assigned to the regional tournament in Salina that starts Monday. The schedule for the tournament will be determined following completion of regular season games.