After breaking a years long tournament winless streak in their last game, the Hillsboro Indians were in top form on Thursday. Hillsboro traveled to Washington High School to take on the Washington Blue Lions in the Division II Southeast Sectional final game and came away with a 14-4 win to advance.
The Indians exploded in the top of the second inning, after falling behind 1-0, for 12 runs. Ethan Watson started the inning with a groundout and it appeared that Hillsboro would be retired in order as they were in the top of the first.
However, the Blue Lions committed three straight errors. Jared Thompson, Luke Magulac and Hayden Haines consecutively reached base on errors, two by the Washington shortstop Eli Ruth and one by the second baseman.
The third error of the inning allowed Thompson to score and Magulac to advance to third. Haines stole second during Dylan Boone’s at bat to put runners on second and third. Boone singled to the shortstop, which elected to throw home as Magulac scored from third and Haines took his place.
Justin Scott was next up for the Indians and continued Hillsboro’s onslaught against Washington’s Nick Barrett with a single that scored Haines. Boone advanced to third on the single after taking second earlier in the at bat.
Mason Stanley, Payton Bell and Kelton Anderson singled in succession to keep the hit parade going. Boone and Stanley each scored before Watson came to the plate for the second time in the inning with the Indians now leading 6-1.
Watson made the most of his second opportunity of the inning and crushed a line drive to centerfield for a base clearing triple that extended the Hillsboro lead to 8-1.
The Indians kept it rolling as Thompson singled, Magulac and Haines tripled in succession and Boone singled as Hillsboro chased Barrett after less than two full innings of work.
Kenneth Arboleda-Munoz relieved Barrett and got Scott to fly out and Stanley to strike out to mercifully end the inning for the Blue Lions who now trailed 12-1 entering the bottom of the second.
Washington head coach Mark Schwartz talked about his team’s lapses on the defensive side of the ball against the Indians after the game and congratulated Hillsboro on their victory.
“In every game we have had an inning where our defense hasn’t been the greatest and we have been able to fight through it this year. Today we just couldn’t battle through it and it just caught up with us today against a good Hillsboro team. They hit the ball well and they hit some little bloopers here and there. You will have that in baseball sometimes so, hats off to them”, said Schwartz.
Hillsboro coach Matt Garman talked about the second inning avalanche of runs by his team after the game and the performance of Ethan Humphries on the mound.
“We talk to the guys a lot in practice about hitting, about how in the early season when you are in the gym because of the weather and it feels like you can’t get outside. There are two things you can do that directly translate to the field. One is swing the bat and two is throw off the mounds. I think you saw both of them click tonight. We are a really confident hitting team and we feel like at any time we can explode. A twelve run inning is another thing, we hit the ball really well in that inning,” Garman said.
Hillsboro added two more runs in the third and fourth inning to reach their total of 14 as the Blue Lion defense and Munoz gathered their composure over the final three innings of play.
The Blue Lions tried to make it interesting as they plated one run each in the third, fourth and fifth innings to get to within 14-4. However, that was not enough to extend the game past five innings of play.
Hillsboro advances to the District Tournament at Athens High School on May 14, with a scheduled first pitch of 5 p.m.
Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.