Playoff run ends for Hillcrest Academy

Lisbon tops Ravens in 1A district title game

By Paul D. Bowker
Posted 7/19/21

LISBON

The groans of nervousness rattled around Lisbon City Park with a district championship at stake.

When Grant Bender of Hillcrest Academy trotted home to score a run on a bases-loaded walk …

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Playoff run ends for Hillcrest Academy

Lisbon tops Ravens in 1A district title game

Posted

LISBON

The groans of nervousness rattled around Lisbon City Park with a district championship at stake.

When Grant Bender of Hillcrest Academy trotted home to score a run on a bases-loaded walk to Luke Schrock in the fifth inning of Saturday’s championship showdown, the Ravens’ dugout and spectator section on the visitors' side roared in delight.

The Ravens, who had begun tournament play earlier in the week with victories over English Valleys and North Cedar, had closed to within two runs of top-seeded Lisbon on its home field in the Class 1A District 6 final. The Lions, winners of five straight and seven of their previous eight games, were not used to such things.

Hillcrest never scored again.

With the bases still loaded and two out in the fifth inning, Jace Rempel’s line drive headed for left field was snagged by Lisbon third baseman Alex Bock.

“One of those situations where we gave ourselves opportunities and that’s all we can ask is give yourself an opportunity to stay in the game, tie the game, or whatever,” Hillcrest head coach Danny Hershberger said. “We’re maybe a foot or six inches from tying the game there. They step up and they make a good play to get out of it. That’s baseball. That happens.”

The Ravens were shut out the rest of the way although Noah Miller did hit a double in the seventh inning.

Hillcrest finished its season with a record of 14-10 after winning four of its last five games.

“Obviously you want to win the game,” Hershberger said, “but at the same time I told our guys, we have to be proud of the effort we put forth tonight. We definitely left it on the field. We can’t look back and say that we had more to give.

“The biggest thing I’m proud of everyone is just leaving it out there and doing everything we can. Credit Lisbon for coming away with the win.”

And just one inning did it for the Lions, who had averaged 11.5 runs in its first two tournament wins over Columbus and Lone Tree. The Lions scored four runs in the second inning on two hits, an error, a walk and three wild pitches.

“That second inning, I don’t know what happened really,” said Hillcrest pitcher Eli Ours, a senior who was playing in his last game for the Ravens.

After the nightmarish second inning, Ours didn’t allow the Lions a run as Hillcrest chipped away at Lisbon’s lead. He allowed just five hits and two earned runs.

“He threw an amazing game tonight,” Miller said. “Couldn’t have asked for much more.”

Down 4-0, the Ravens came back to score once in the third inning. Seth Ours singled to lead off the inning. He moved to second base on a ground-out, to third base on a single by Bender and he scored on a single by Miller.

Hillcrest loaded the bases in the fifth inning on a walk, and singles by Eli Ours and London Schrock. A walk to Luke Schrock scored a run. But the rally ended on Rempel’s line-out to third.

“We had the bases loaded at least twice. We were right there,” said Eli Ours.

So close. The Ravens were within two wins of the Class 1A state tournament for the first time since 2018, when they were defeated by Pekin in the substate semifinals. With seven underclassmen in the starting lineup, including four sophomores and two eighth-graders, Hershberger is hoping this season could be the start of a strong Hillcrest run in the future.

“This is the type of game we want to be playing in,” Hershberger said. “Anytime you can get experience doing that, it’s a good thing. Hopefully, the feeling of this loss will move the guys to be on the other side of it.”

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