The Abilene Rebels baseball team hosted Hillsboro for a double-header Tuesday night, and came up short in both games. Hillsboro won the opener 10-7 and finished off the sweep with an 11-5 victory.
In game one, Hillsboro got on the scoreboard early with a run in the first inning on a single, stolen base, a walk and an error. The Rebels came up and tied the game when Kaden Coup hit a two-out single, stole second base and then scored on a ground-rule double by Robbie Keener that one-hopped the left field fence. Neither team did much at all offensively in the second and third innings.
The fourth inning was big for the visitors, as they scored five runs on just one hit, four walks, a hit batter, and two Abilene errors. The Rebels got two runs as Coup and Keener again did the damage. Coup singled and then scored on a monster home run off Keener’s bat that cleared the trees outside of the left field fence to make the score 6-3 in favor of Hillsboro.
In the fifth inning, the visitors scored a run after back to back singles to lead off the inning and a couple of wild pitches. Abilene matched that run in its half of the inning as Michael McClanahan led off by being hit by a pitch, stole second, and later scored on a balk.
Hillsboro added to its lead in the sixth, which was the final inning due to time limit, with two hits, three walks and an error. The Rebels kept fighting as Coup led off with a walk and stole second, Keener hit into a fielder’s choice to score Coup who moved to third on a wild pitch, Brenton Reiff singled to drive in a run, Karsen Loader singled and stole second, Stewart Scott walked – all before an out was recorded. Then came a couple of fly-outs, a walk by Ayden Taylor, and a fielder’s choice to end the game at 10-7.
“We just weren’t real sharp defensively again, to many walks and too many errors,” said Abilene coach Billy Hansen. “We came out flat, no enthusiasm or much talking on the field. I need to do better to get this team ready to go. When we get between the white lines, we need to focus on the baseball and communicate, and have fun. We did try to get back into it there at the end though. So that was good to see.”
Offensively for the Rebels, Coup was 2-2 with three runs scored, a walk, and two stolen bases. Keener went 2-3 with two runs scored and four RBI. Loader was 2-3 with a stolen base, and Reiff went 1-2 with a run scored, a RBI, and a stolen base.
On the mound for Abilene, Loader got the start and went three and two-thirds innings, striking out seven, walked five, hit two batters, allowed two hits, and four earned runs. Roman Sanchez came on in relief and tossed two and a third innings, striking out five, walked four, allowed four hits, and two earned runs.
Two big innings in the second game was what gave Hillsboro another win. It went down in order in their first at-bat however, and Abilene took an early lead with a run as Coup and Keener continued to stay hot. Coup hit a two-out single, stole second and third bases, and scored on a single from Keener. One of those big innings for Hillsboro was the second, as it scored five runs on just one hit again, three walks, a hit batter, and two Abilene errors. The Rebels plated a run in their half of the inning as Cayden Wyckoff led off with a walk and later scored on a wild pitch to 5-2.
Hillsboro went down in order in its half of the third inning. For the Rebels, they scored another run when Carter Taplin got on with a one-out walk, Keener singled, Reiff walked, and Taplin would score on a wild pitch to make it 5-3. But Hillsboro had a big fourth inning, with four runs on two hits, three walks, a hit batter and a sacrifice. Abilene sent four to the plate in its half of the inning, but not do much.
Two more runs came for Hillsboro in the fifth, and final, inning on three hits. The big blow being a two-RBI flare single down the right field line. The Rebels got a run of their own after a single by Taplin, who then stole second, and scored on a fielder’s choice from Coup. Keener then came to bat, with two outs, and came up inches short from hitting his second homerun of the night as he hit a moonshot to deep left-center that hit off the top of the wall. He got a standup double, but was stranded there to end the game at 11-5.
“We weren’t particularly good at the plate in this one,” Hansen said. “We only had five hits, and Robbie had three of them. We looked at too many strikes, including some third strikes. We have to put the ball in play and put pressure on the other team’s defense to make plays. Sam (Gantner) came in to pitch and threw a lot of strikes…he did a nice job.”
Offensively for Abilene, Keener went 3-3 with a RBI and a stolen base. Taplin was 1-2 with two runs scored and a walk. Coup went 1-3 with a run scored, a RBI, and a stolen base. On the mound for the Rebels, Reiff got the start in going three and two-thirds innings, striking out two, walked six, hit a batter, allowed four hits, and eight earned runs. Gantner threw the final inning and third, striking out one, walked none, hit a batter, allowed four hits, and two earned runs.
Abilene, now 1-5, will play a double-header at Clay Center Friday night beginning at 6 p.m., and then play a double-header at Chapman next Monday, also beginning at 6 p.m.