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Hillsboro playing best ball of season
Tigers ride a five-game winning streak
joey helgerson
Hillsboros Joey Helgerson fires a ball to first to force Bangors Zach Oliver out during the second game of the Tigers doubleheader against the Cardinals. - photo by Nate Beier photo/

The Hillsboro baseball team had finally found its rhythm after battling the weather and constant postponements during the first month of the season.

Monday afternoon the surging Tigers won their fifth straight game with a 3–2 victory over visiting Cashton.
The two teams were scheduled to play a doubleheader, but an hour lightning delay prior to the opener only allowed enough daylight for one game. The second game was scheduled to be made up Tuesday at Cashton.

With the victory Hillsboro improved to 8–5 overall after a 3–5 start, and 6–5 in the SBC.

Sophomore Tyler Crandall allowed just one hit, a seventh inning bloop single by Jeffry Janzen.

Janzen broke up Crandall’s no-hit bid with a lead-off single in the top of the seventh and later scored to pull Cashton within a run.

But Crandall (2–1) closed out the game without further damage to earn his second win of the season. He struck out six and walked four in the compete game victory.

Cashton scored its other run in the third on a walk and an error.

“Tyler pitched very impressively getting big strikeouts when he needed or inducing inning-ending groundballs to end Eagle threats,” said Hillsboro head coach Bob Bothe.

“The defense did commit three errors, but came up big when it needed to including nice plays by Matt Stekel, Ethan Thorson, Brandon Stanek, Grant Jefferies, and Tyler Seeley.”

On Saturday Hillboro won the four-team Ithaca Tournament by beating Menominee Indian High School 6–0 in the opening game, then the host Bulldogs 5–3 in the championship.

The Tigers scored three runs in the top of the first against Menominee and never trailed.

Stanek led off with a hard hit single just out of the reach of the third baseman. He then stole second and scored on Tommy Crandall’s double.

Crandall stole third and home when Matthew Anderson walked and took off for second after a passed ball.

Anderson then advanced to third on Strait’s groundout, and scored on Stekel’s RBI single.

In the third, the Tigers started a two out rally Anderson reached on a fielder’s choice and then scored on a triple by Strait. Strait then scored on another Stekel RBI single.

Strait scored a third time in the fifth when he walked stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball, and scored on Stekel’s sacrifice fly to deep center.

Strait also earned the win in relief after bailing Stanek out of jam in the fourth.

Strait struck out four and allowed just one hit and one walk in 2 1/3 innings of relief.

Thorson pitched 1-2-3 seventh to close out the game.

In the championship game Hillsboro scored three in the top of the seventh to take a 5–1 lead then held off a late Ithaca rally to win the title.

In the top of the seventh Stekel reached on an error scored when Jefferies hit an 0-2 pitch to deep left center for a double.

Jefferies then advanced to third when Thorson reached on an error. Tyler Seeley then hit a “safety squeeze” bunt down the first base line to score Jefferies.

Stanek the ripped a triple to right center to easily scored Thorson from third who earlier stole second and advanced to third on Seeley’s squeeze.

The Bulldogs did not go down quietly in the seventh. Strait put got two quick outs, but then gave up a single and hit a batter to bring the tying run up to bat.

Tommy Crandall relieved Strait but gave up a single and a walk to make the game 5–3 with two outs and the bases loaded.

Crandall came up with several great pitches and finally got the last hitter to go down looking to end the game.

Last Thursday Jefferies went 2-for-3 and drilled a go-ahead two-run double in the third inning as Hillsboro held off Necedah 7–5.

Last Tuesday the Tigers split an SBC doubleheader at Bangor.

Cannon O’Heron blanked Hillsboro in the opener holding the Tigers to just three hits in 7–0 Bangor win.

Hillsboro bounced back to take the nightcap 6–5.

Tommy Crandall went 3-for-4 in the game with a double and his first career home run.

Tommy also relieved his brother Tyler in the sixth and worked out of a jam. He struck out three in two innings to earn his second save.

Tyler Crandall’s sac fly in the bottom of the fifth proved to be the difference in the game. He also earned the win on the mound allowing three earned runs on 10 hits in five innings.