Becoming a varsity baseball head coach has always been a goal of Ryan Budnik’s.
After three years as an assistant coach at the University School in Milwaukee (2005–07) and four more most recently at Reedsburg (2011–14), Budnik takes over a Hillsboro program that went 13–8 a year ago.
The Tigers are battling injuries to junior pitchers Tyler Crandall (thumb) and Max Stockwell (wrist), but junior pitcher Tommy Crandall picked up the slack for hurting teammates and pitched Budnick and the Tigers to a pair of victories in the past week.
Last Thursday Hillsboro defeated visiting New Lisbon 7–2 in the season opener for both teams and Budnik’s debut as Tigers coach.
Crandall and fellow junior Ethan Thorson combined limited New Lisbon to six hits.
Crandall tossed four scoreless innings and struck out seven while allowing four walks and two hits.
Thorson came on in the fifth an finished the game out to earn the three-inning save allowing two runs, one earned, on four hits. He struck out three and walked three.
Crandall doubled in the top of the second inning and later scored on freshman James Anderson’s RBI ground out.
The Tigers broke open the game with five runs in the fourth inning.
Senior catcher Matt Stekel singled, Crandall doubled and Anderson followed with a two-run single.
Three walks and two Rocket errors led to the other three runs in the frame.
Crandall finished 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles, an RBI, a stolen base and three runs scored.
Anderson finished with three RBIs.
Hillsboro 3, Necedah 2 (8)
Monday afternoon Hillsboro pulled out a 3–2 victory in eight innings at Necedah.
Junior shortstop Joey Helgerson led off the top of the eighth with a single, stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball. Helgerson scored the eventual game-winning run on a Thorson single.
Necedah sent the game into extra innings with a two-out, two-run single by Charlie Huschka in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Crandall (2–0) went the distance for Hillsboro, allowing two runs on six hits in eight innings. He struck out 13 and walked just two. He also went 2-for-3 at the plate and scored a run.
Junior first baseman Hunter Stanek drove in Hillsboro runs in the second and seventh inning.
Matt Brown pitched very well in defeat for Necedah, allowing three runs on six hits in eight innings. He struck out five and walked just one.
“I am very excited to be here in Hillsboro,” said Budnik. “I’m excited they took a chance and gave me an opportunity. Being a head coach has always been a goal of mine. As much as it pains me to leave Reedsburg and a group I had been with since their freshman year, I’m happy to be in Hillsboro. I’m glad they gave me a shot.”
Hillsboro (2–0, 2–0 SBC) is scheduled to host Bangor today, weather permitting, and will host Cashton on Tuesday.