Hillcrest jumped out to a 12-0 lead on their way to a 17-7 victory over West Central Area in the first round of Section 6A baseball playoffs. Collin Erickson went 2 for 4 with 6 RBI including a grand slam to lead the Comet attack.
Jake Steinle had two doubles on a 3 for 5 night and 3 RBI, Reggie Undseth reached base 5 times and scored 4 runs while going 2 for 3, and Troy Tonnesen had a 4 for 5 game with 3 RBI in the biggest offensive explosion of the season for the Comets.
West Central managed to take advantage of 5 walks and 3 errors in the third inning, scoring 7 runs on just 2 hits off reliever Tonnesen, but that was all they could manage as Sean McGuire, Steinle, and Undseth put up zeroes in the other 6 innings.
The Comets batted around in the first inning to put up 5 runs. McGuire walked and Undseth was hit by a pitch. Erickson's RBI single brought McGuire home for the first run, and a groundout scored Undseth. Sam Ihrke's single to center scored Erickson and Tonnesen singled to score Ihrke. After Tonnesen stole 2nd, Brent Ferenczy's RBI single made it 5-0.
In the 3rd inning the Comets batted around again. Steinle and Ihrke singled to open the inning, setting up another RBI single by Tonnesen. After another stolen base by Tonnesen, Sam Isaac singled both runners home to make it 8-0. Walks to Nick Foss and Undseth loaded the bases for Erickson who blasted a grand slam to put the game out of reach at 12-0.
Hillcrest added single runs in the 4th on McGuire's RBI single and in the 5th on Steinle's double. A three-run 7th rounded out the scoring: Foss doubled and Undseth singled to send Foss to third. Erickson picked up his 6th RBI of the game on a sacrifice fly, then Steinle again doubled Undseth home. Tonnesen's grounder off the shortstop's glove scored Steinle for the final run of the game.
Coach Steve Undseth said, "It was huge for us to get that big lead because we were able to preserve our pitchers for the doubleheader we will have on Thursday. Sean, Reggie, and Jake each threw 2 innings and under 40 pitches, making them available again after resting tomorrow. It was fun to watch the guys run around the bases a little bit tonight. We put some nice swings on the ball. I think Collin's grand slam is the first I can recall by a Hillcrest batter since I've been coaching, so that was pretty special."
Hillcrest will now advance to play the #1 seed Ortonville on Thursday in Morris at 2:30 p.m. Another game will follow at 5:00 p.m. against an undetermined opponent, depending on the outcome of the first game. Hillcrest is 8-8 on the season.