Brock Netter, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — It’s been 27 long years for Hillsboro, but the wait was well worth the reward.
After clutch hitting from Unioto in the bottom of the seventh inning, Hillsboro’s Ryan Scott trumped the Shermans with the biggest hit of his team’s year — an RBI single to put the Indians (23-6) ahead.
Scott’s base knock was ultimately the game-winner, producing a 6-5 final in eight innings in a Division II district final, Tuesday at VA Memorial Stadium.
The victory marks the Indians’ first district championship since 1993.
“Oh my gosh. We stuck to it and we just kept hitting. We have 10 seniors and we’ve been playing together since little league. We’re all brothers,” Scott said. “A lot of us played basketball together and this means a lot to us.”
They wasted no time in drawing first blood as Zach Humphries notched an RBI groundout, scoring Scott to put it ahead 1-0.
They added to the lead in the next inning. Following a leadoff single, Brayden Hisling roped an RBI double to right-center field that pushed the lead to 2-0.
Two innings later, Scott contributed in the top of the fourth and ripped a two-run single to left field for a 4-0 lead, helping his own cause.
Unioto (24-6) responded in the bottom half of the inning. Following a leadoff triple from Cam DeBord, Carson DeBord hit an RBI single to right field that cut the lead to 4-1.
Scott, however, continued to deal and got out of a jam with runners on first and third by notching his sixth strikeout to keep the Indians ahead.
But the Shermans weren’t done fighting for their season’s life just yet.
After a leadoff double from Carson DeBord in the sixth, Landyn Patterson registered an RBI triple to cut the lead to two. Patterson then scored two batters later after D.C. Dailey smoked an RBI double down the left field line, which shrunk Hillsboro’s advantage to 4-3.
Scott and company still managed to get a groundout and pop out to end the inning with the lead still intact.
But with Unioto’s season on life support, Ashton Crace led off with a single in the bottom of the seventh. Then, three batters later with two outs, Carson DeBord came up with the biggest hit of Unioto’s season and legged out an infield RBI single to tie the game 4-4.
“Unioto was playing great. They just beat Miami Trace, the top team in our district,” Scott said. “I think we have one of the tougher districts around.”
Although it was Scott who Unioto chased off the mound in the bottom of the seventh, he got an RBI single to left field in the top of the eighth to put the Indians ahead.
They added another run on a bases loaded walk to push the score to 6-4.
Unioto wasn’t done just yet as it got an RBI single off the bat of Crace to trim the lead to 6-5, but Brad Miller got a strikeout to end the inning and slam the door shut.
“Our team has really put it together this season, especially later in the season,” catcher Spencer Wyckoff said. “This evening, we came out, had great energy and got the lead. Then, [Unioto] kind of got to us. They started to come back a little bit. But we stayed through it and got it done.”
Scott threw 6 2/3 innings, allowing four earned runs and striking out eight batters. He also finished 3-for-5 with a run scored and three RBIs. Miller earned the win in 1 1/3 innings, giving up an earned run.
Hisling went 1-for-2 with a double, run scored and an RBI, Humphries went 1-for-4 with an RBI and Korbin Adams was 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored.
For Unioto, Carson DeBord finished 3-for-4 with a double, run scored and two RBIs, followed by Patterson going 1-for-3 with a triple and an RBI. Dailey went 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI, while Cam DeBord and Crace each had a hit and a run scored.
“Unioto gave us a run for our money. We’re going to go home and work on some hitting,” catcher Spencer Wyckoff said. “A few of us, myself included, struggled hitting this game. We’re going to work on it and be better in the next one.”
Hillsboro advances to a Division II regional semifinal at 5 p.m., June 3 at Teays Valley High School against either Tri-Valley or St. Clairsville.
“I think we just have to keep being us,” Scott said. “If we keep being us, it’ll all work out.”
NOTE: SOSA will have a full photo gallery from Hillsboro’s district title win later this evening.