The McLennan Highlanders swept today's conference-opening doubleheader with the Hill Rebels in Hillsboro.
McLennan came from behind to defeat Hill 9-3 in game one with Grant Miller getting the win on the mound for the Highlanders.
The Highlanders scored one run in the top of the first inning to begin the scoring. Dylan Neuse drew a lead-off walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. Aidan Shepardson followed with a single. Josh Breaux then hit into a double play that allowed Neuse to score.
The Rebels took the lead with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Taylor Daniell doubled and moved to third on a ground out by Blake Mooty. Marco Navarro followed with a two-run homer.
Hill added a run in the bottom of the fifth as Mooty doubled and scored on a double by Navarro.
McLennan stole the win with eight runs in the top of the seventh inning. Thomas Santos was safe at first on a Rebel error and Nick Thornquist doubled. Both runners scored on triple by Neuse. Shepardson reached first safely on a dropped third strike. Breaux followed with a three-run bomb. Griffin Paxton walked and Chase Sortor singled. Santos followed with a three-run homer of his own.
The Highlanders defeated the Rebels 11-5 in the night cap with Shane Daughety getting the win.
McLennan got on the board with Paxton's solo home run in the top of the second.
Another Highlander run crossed the plate in the fifth as Shepardson singled, moved to second on the walk of Breaux, advanced to third on a fielder's choice by Keaton Milford and scored on a Hill error.
Zack Wilson's solo home run in the sixth put the Rebels on the board.
McLennan increased its lead with three more runs in the top of the seventh. Shepardson led off with a single and scored on Breaux's two run homer. Milford followed with a solo home run.
Hill's final three runs of the day came in the bottom of the seventh. Nathan Vail walked and scored on a Josh Smeltzer's homer. Jonathan McKay then singled, moved to second on a single by Daniell and scored on a Highlander throwing error.
The Highlanders rounded out the scoring with two runs in the top of the ninth as Shepardson doubled again and scored on another Breaux homer.
"Today was obviously a really good start to our conference season. Anytime you can win two games on the road, it's a big deal. I'm especially proud of our guys after the comeback win in game one. To be down 3-1 going into the top of the seventh inning and put up an 8-spot on them to win the game 9-3 says a whole lot about these guys' character and commitment," head coach Mitch Thompson said.
"Today was really all about us pitching and I thought our pitchers did a really nice job. With the wind blowing out at Hill and a shorter ballpark, it's a tough park to pitch to. For us to give up eight runs total in two ballgames there was really a big deal. Our defense was outstanding for the most part. We made a lot of routine plays; our pitchers did a really good job throwing the baseball; then offensively we did enough to win. We hit eight home runs on the day. Breaux had a big day with four home runs and it was great to see him come out and do that. We are expecting more from him on down the line."
The Highlanders and Rebels will wrap up the four-game series with a noon doubleheader Saturday at Bosque River Ballpark.
McLennan 9, Hill 3
McLennan 100 000 8 – 9 10 0
Hill 200 010 0 – 3 9 1
Logan Freeman, Grant Miller (5), Daniel Cole (7) and Nick Thornquist. Dane Kapande, Anthony Laughlin (7) and Nathan Vail. WP: Miller; LP Laughlin. Leading hitters – McLennan: Dylan Neuse (1-3, 3B, 2 RBI), Josh Breaux (2-4, HR, 3 RBI), Keaton Milford (2-4), Thomas Santos (1-3, HR, 3 RBI) and Nick Thornquist (2-4, 2B); Hill: Taylor Daniell (1-2, 2B), Blake Mooty (1-4, 2B), Dean Frew (2-4), Marco Navarro (2-3, 2B, HR, 3 RBI) and Reed Hamilton (1-3, 2B). Record: McLennan 14-5 (1-0).
McLennan 11, Hill 5
McLennan 014 010 302 – 11 9 1
Hill 000 001 400 – 5 7 1
Shane Daughety, Connor Heffron (7), Alex DeLeon (7) and Jackson Nichols. Carson Carter, Justin Waltmon (7), Jacob Mattox (9) and Nathan Vail. WP: Daughety; LP: Carter. Leading hitters – McLennan: Dylan Neuse (1-5, HR, 3 RBI), Aidan Shepardson (3-5, 2 2B), Josh Breaux (3-4, 3 HR, 5 RBI), Keaton Milford (1-5, HR, RBI) and Griffin Paxton (1-4, HR, RBI); Hill: Marco Navarro (0-4, RBI), Zack Wilson (1-4, HR, RBI), Jonathan McKay (2-2) and Josh Smeltzer (1-2, HR, 2 RBI). Record: McLennan 15-5 (2-0).