Hillsboro uses a four-run fourth inning to beat crosstown rival Glencoe and get back into state playoff contention

Hillsboro baseball coach Matt Bailie wasn’t about to get discouraged, even as his team found itself in the midst of a five-game Pacific Conference losing HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Hillsboro junior lefthander Chase Kaplan delivers a pitch during last Friday's Pacific Conference baseball game against Tualatin.

After all, two of those losses came against second-place McMinnville, and the other three losses came against first-place Tualatin, which is 12-1 in conference play this season.

Bailie’s faith in his team was rewarded on Tuesday when the Spartans broke open a close game against crosstown rival Glencoe and surged to a 7-3 victory that got Hilhi back in the win column and back in the hunt for the league’s fourth and final state playoff berth.

“Everybody in the league has had a hard time against Tualatin. We competed, we just didn’t win any ballgames against them,” Bailie said. “It’s a tribute to our players that after losing five straight they came out against Glencoe and got a big win.”

Senior Jack Merrill got the win for Hilhi, scattering nine hits over six innings and giving up three earned runs. He kept the Crimson Tide off the scoreboard for the first three innings, then helped spark the Hillsboro offense during a four-run fourth inning that wound up being the difference in the game.

After two walks to open the inning, junior Chase Kaplan belted a two-run double to left field that gave Hilhi a 2-0 lead. A sacrifice bunt moved Kaplan over to third and Cody Parmelee was hit by a pitch, putting runners on the corners for Damon Peters with two outs. The freshman came through with a clutch RBI single, and Merrill followed with a base hit that scored Parmalee and put the Spartans on top, 4-0.

Glencoe got a run back in the bottom of the fourth and two more in the fifth to get as close as 4-3, but Merrill shut down the Tide offense the rest of the way and Hilhi padded its lead in the late innings.

Peters got things going in the sixth inning with a two-out double to right field, and he came around to score on another RBI single from Merrill.

In the top of the seventh, Kaplan roped a double to left field and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt. Clayton Vandervelden hit a pop up that dropped for an infield single, scoring Kaplan, and Parmelee followed two batters later with an RBI single that gave Hilhi a 7-3 advantage.

In addition to his pitching line, Merrill went 3-for-5 at the plate with two RBIs. Peters was 3-for-4 with an RBI, and Kaplan went 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs.

The win put Hilhi in a tie with Tigard for third place in the conference standings, one game ahead of fifth-place Century. The top four finishers earn automatic bids to the Class 6A state playoffs, while the bottom four teams face play-in games.

“Right now we still have some business to take care of, but we’re in the top four spots and if we can stay there, we don’t have to play that play-in game,” Bailie said. “Next week we play Tigard, and they’re right there with us. Depending on how things fall, (those two games) could decide who finishes fourth.”

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