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Something for everyone

LINCOLN-The Alcona and Hillman baseball teams got plenty of consistent pitching, some timely hits and made plenty of big plays on Monday.

But after splitting a North Star League doubleheader, it was the plays they didn’t make and the runs they didn’t get that left both teams lamenting their missed opportunity to take a key sweep with only a few weeks left in the regular season.

Alcona held off Hillman 3-1 in the opener and Hillman returned the favor in the nightcap, winning 4-2.

Alcona (12-8-1) trailed 4-2 after 5 1/2 innings in game two and recorded two quick outs to open its final turn at the plate. But Alcona refused to go quietly as it got two singles to get a pair of runners on base and Jack Hutchinson followed with a walk to load the bases. Hillman was able to neutralize the threat when Nate Swinson flew out to second base to end the game.

“We’ve had that happen a couple times, so (I) wasn’t anymore nervous than normal. For some reason we like to put guys on in the bottom of the sixth inning,” Hillman coach Rick Firman said. “This second game is a huge win for us because it keeps us in contention for the league (title).”

The missed scoring chances in the sixth inning brought an end to a frustrating game for Alcona. The Tigers made six errors in the field and scattered just six hits in the final five innings at the plate. Alcona led 2-1 after one inning, but the rest of the game largely swung in Hillman’s favor.

A passed ball allowed Hillman (15-8, 10-3 NSL) to score a run in the first inning and Hillman tied the game 2-2 on a fielder’s choice in the second inning. Hillman took the lead for good in the third inning when Kory Henigan beat a tag at home plate. Another error allowed Hillman to add its final run in the fifth inning.

“When you play good teams and you make a couple errors, you’re going to be in trouble. Hillman comes to play every year,” Alcona coach Terry Franklin said. “It seems like in our league, anybody can beat anybody on a given day, so you’ve got to be ready to play all the time.”

Brock Franklin’s solo home run to left center field and an RBI single by Alex Stephenson gave Alcona a 2-1 lead in the first inning, but the Tigers went quietly for the majority of the final five innings.

McFadden led Alcona with two hits and Franklin and Stephenson each had an RBI. Kyler Moir had two hits for Hillman and scored a run.

On the mound, Jared Juergens went the distance for Hillman, allowing two runs on eight hits with a walk and five strikeouts. Erik Davey pitched for Alcona, allowing four runs on four hits with two strikeouts and four walks.

The two teams seemingly switched roles in the first game as Alcona got some timely hits and runs and Hillman couldn’t bring anyone home.

Alcona got started early, scoring two runs in the first inning on an two-run double from Coda Gallagher. An RBI single from Franklin in the second inning gave Alcona a 3-0 lead.

“The kids played a solid first game. We had hits at the right time, did some nice things defensively,” Franklin said.

Hillman’s troubles started in the first inning when the Tigers loaded the bases with two outs and left their runners stranded. Hillman left at least two runners on base in four different innings and left 11 runners aboard for the game.

With two outs in the top of the sixth inning, Juergens walked with the bases loaded to send Henigan home to score Hillman’s only run. Hillman still had the bases loaded after scoring but Moir grounded out to first base to end the game.

Moir pitched for Hillman, allowing three runs on six hits with four walks and six strikeouts. Gallagher pitched 5 2/3 innings for Hillman, allowing a run on three hits with six walks and six strikeouts. With the bases loaded in the sixth inning, Davey came in to relieve Gallagher and got Moir to ground out.

Franklin had two hits and an RBI for Alcona, Gallagher had two hits and two RBI and Hutchinson had two hits. Henigan and Caine Hunt each had two hits for Hillman.

James Andersen can be reached via email at sports@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.