When Claymont came to visit Hiland at Lehman Field on Wednesday, April 3, the Hawks wanted to establish early on the fact that they were the dominant baseball team.
They did that and more in pounding out a 14-0 victory that saw them excel in every aspect of the game.
The Hawks left little doubt as to the outcome in this one, plating seven runs in the opening inning after Shayne Hershberger flew through the top of the first.
Andy Miller reached on an error for the Hawks and was promptly doubled home off the bat of Ryan Hershberger. After Kevin Borntrager drew a walk, Hershberger moved to third on a wild pitch and then scored on a double steal to make it 2-0. Casey Kalman’s infield single moved Borntrager to third, and he trotted home on a wild pitch to put the Hawks up 3-0.
Kobe Shetler crushed a triple and scored on a wild pitch for a 5-0 advantage. Drew Yoder and Logan Miller singled, and Andy Miller bashed his second single of the inning to complete the scoring for the 7-0 lead.
“Shane threw strikes and worked ahead in his counts, and we came out aggressively and established ourselves quickly,” Hiland head coach Chris Dages said. “That can sometimes lull you into a place of being complacent, but we did a nice job of continuing to attack and stayed aggressive through all five innings.”
Neither team scored in the second, and Claymont got its first hit in the third inning, but Hershberger easily got out of the inning unscathed on the scoreboard. Hiland came back in and went to work. Logan Miller got plunked by a pitch, Hershberger drew a walk and Andy Miller drove a run-plating single to left for his third hit. Ryan Hershberger was hit by a pitch, as was Borntrager, forcing in a run, and Kalman’s fielder’s choice made it 10-0.
Claymont got two hits in the fourth inning but had a runner picked off at third base as Kalman received a pitch and fired to third for the out, helping Hershberger keep the shutout intact.
Fed up with just hitting singles for a living, All-Ohioan Andy Miller uncorked a three-run bomb over the green wall in left, despite a wind gusting from left field to right field. Hiland’s 14th run came on Shetler’s soft floater to right.
“Andy really had to put a charge into that one to get it over the wall tonight,” Dages said. “I told the kids that they would have to hit it on the roof tonight to get one out of here, and I didn’t expect anyone to do that with the wind blowing across the way it was. I guess I was wrong.”
On came lanky righty Korrie Hostetler to throw the final frame, and he disposed of the Mustangs in order, getting a pair of strike-outs and a ground out to finish the game.
Andy Miller went 3-for-4 on the night with five RBI, Shetler banged out two hits and drove in a pair, and Logan Miller went 2-for-2 with three runs for the Hawks. Hershberger twirled four innings of three-hit, no-run baseball, striking out four without walking a batter.
“We’ve swung the bats pretty well, but there is certainly room for improvement,” Dages said of his team. “The bats are usually the last thing to come around every spring, so I have liked what I have seen as far as our approach here early on.”
In their game prior to this one, the Hawks got a small bit of revenge against Ridgewood, the team that knocked them out of the tournament in district finals last season.
Getting four strong shutout innings from Hershberger, two from Kobe Shetler and a save from Andy Miller, Hiland dealt the Generals a 3-0 loss.
While Ridgewood had four hits, Hiland managed just five, but the Hawks made the most of them, breaking open a scoreless tie in the top of the sixth. In that inning Kalman drew a one-out walk, and with two outs Shetler singled him to second. After Drew Yoder worked a walk, Ricky Miller launched a high fly ball that was dropped, the error allowing all three runners to scamper home.
“Hersh threw very well, and the guys who were here last year really wanted to play well in that one,” Dages said. “Their kid threw really well and kept us off-balance, but we kept battling and never hung our heads and came out on top.”