While the Senior Little League World Series did not go as the Hiland Hawks had hoped it would, it certainly ended with a bang.
As the representative from the Central regional, the Hawks lost their first two games of the series to Florida and the host South Carolina team, effectively eliminating them from advancing any further.
However, there was one more game to play as the Hawks faced the champions from Asia-Pacific in a consolation game on Thursday, Aug. 3 in Easley, South Carolina, delivering a crushing 14-0 defeat to the Asia-Pacific team.
Andy Miller left little doubt as to the outcome of this game as the Central hurler took the mound and allowed lead-off singles in the first and second innings but was absolutely sparkling in his pitching effort after that.
Meanwhile the Hiland bats, which had been dormant for the tournament, came to life against four Asia-Pacific pitchers.
The Hawks got a pair of runs to open the game when Tyler Kline singled, leading off the game. Miller drew a walk but was forced at second on Ryan Herhsberger’s groundout, and after Kline was thrown out at home for the second out trying to advance, Casey Kalman singled, Michael Shoup walked and Kevin Borntrager came through with a huge two-out, two-run double to set the stage for an offensive onslaught.
The Hawks went quietly in the second but plated four more runs in the third inning. With one out Hershberger and Kalman stroked consecutive singles, and one out later Borntrager smoked his second double to make it 3-0. Shoup, who had reached base when he forced Kalman at second base, scored on a wild pitch, and Kobe Miller’s RBI single made it 5-0.
The Central champs kept attacking in the fourth inning. Andy Miller led off with a single, Hershberger doubled and Kalman drove home Miller with a sharp single. Hershberger scored on a fielder’s choice, and following a couple of walks, Miller crushed a double to the wall in center. Suddenly the Hawks were in command 12-0.
A single marker in the fifth came when Miller singled and scored on Hershberger’s double, and Hiland notched another run in the sixth on a Drew Yoder single, which finished off the scoring in the five-inning blowout.
Hiland finished World Series play at 1-2, having been outscored 28-23 in the three contests. Asia-Pacific finished 0-3 and didn’t score a single run in getting outscored 34-0.
Miller went the complete game, allowing just the two singles while striking out two, and he added two hits, scoring a pair of runs. Borntrager had a huge game, pounding out two doubles, driving home four runs and scoring a pair. Hershberger mashed three hits, drove in three and scored three times. Kalman also added three hits, scoring twice and driving in a run.
The appearance for Hiland marks the third time in the past six seasons the Hawks have earned a spot at the World Series.
Top-seeded Puerto Rico Caribbean (3-1) was defeated by Panama Latin America (3-1) by a tight score of 2-1 to decide the champion in the World portion of the tournament while Coral Springs Florida Southeast (4-0) thumped Wailuku, Hawaii West (2-2) by a whopping 12-2 count to capture the U.S. title.