Multiple Teams · Hillsboro knocks off defending Class 5 champ Francis Howell

Paul Halfacre – Photo

Hillsboro knocks off defending Class 5 champ Francis Howell

ST. CHARLES • Hillsboro High senior pitcher Nick Warren’s curveball was working well.

So he figured, why not use it to pick up the three biggest outs of the game.

Warren struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh to help Hillsboro knock off defending Class 5 champion Francis Howell 1-0 in the Troy Baseball Classic at Francis Howell High on Friday.

“I thought we did pretty well,” Hillsboro coach Kevin Lucas said. “It’s been rough on us because we haven’t been outside all that much. First day we’ve seen live pitching, so I’m pretty happy with the outcome.”

Warren came on in relief of Brandon Whitehead and went three innings. He struck out three and did not allow a hit.

After Whitehead pitched four shutout innings, Warren wasn’t about to let his starter down.

“It was nerve wracking,” Warren said. “Especially for the first game of the season. But you’ve got to keep your composure and do what you can. I was just doing everything for him because he does everything for us.”

Whitehead allowed one hit and struck out three. But it was his pickoff move that caught Francis Howell flat-footed.

“It keeps them honest,” Whitehead said. “They don’t steal a lot of bases (on me). I just want to keep them on their toes. The game plan was to come in and throw strikes and that’s just me as a pitcher, I like throwing over and it’s just what I do.”

Whitehead picked off Francis Howell’s first base runner. Then catcher Nick Carter caught another runner taking too big a lead off first.

Then, in the bottom of the third, Francis Howell ran into two outs at third base attempting to steal.

 “That was the game,” Francis Howell coach Tony Perkins said. “We just didn’t do a very good job of running the bases. Plus, we didn’t hit. I really felt like we could have scored at least three runs in this game. But that’s baseball and they’re young and we’ll just roll with the punches and get better as we go.”

Francis Howell lost four runners on the bases.

“I told the team, if we run the bases like that ,we’re going to experience a lot of losses,” Perkins said.

Francis Howell starting pitcher Ben Holsclaw pounded the strike zone picking up five strikeouts. Two passed balls in the third inning accounted for the only run of the game.

“Ben did great, he threw a couple balls in the dirt and that’s the reason they scored that run,” Perkins said. “If we could have kept that ball in front of us, we would have gotten out of that inning as well.”

Holsclaw limited Hillsboro to only three hits in five innings, but Lucas was still happy with what he saw from his offense.

“We hit the ball pretty well,” Lucas said. “(But) we hit the ball right at people. They went in with the approach of being relaxed and hit what they could hit and try and drive it right back up the middle.”

It was Lucas’ first win as the coach at Hillsboro. The Hawks will play Francis Howell North on Saturday.

“It’s a big confidence-builder for us,” Lucas said. “We’ve got some guys who are stepping into some varsity experience, so that’s a good thing. But we can’t just be satisfied with this. We have to build from here.”

Francis Howell will look to rebound as it plays Francis Howell North on Saturday in the second game of the Troy Baseball Classic before playing Fort Zumwalt North later that afternoon.

“The only good thing is that we get up at 9 am tomorrow and we can turn it around right away,” Perkins said. “If we come out of this in 24 hours and get 2-1, I’ll take that. But we’ve got to go out there and execute better.”