As the second-season known as tournament time rolls around, teams want to challenge themselves by playing good competition.
The Hiland Hawks did that on Saturday, May 4 at Hiland’s Lehman Field when they faced a perennially tough Clear Fork team, and the Hawks had plenty of reasons to smile as they walked away, literally, with a 10-o five-inning win.
Ryan Hershberger and Casey Lowe teamed up to no-hit the Colts on a cold and dreary Saturday morning affair at Lehman Field.
“We really didn’t even think about it being a no-hitter,” Hiland head coach Chris Dages said.
Hiland was looking forward to a contest against a Clear Fork program that has been highly accomplished over the years, even producing state tournament appearances recently. Dages said it is important for his team to face quality competition as it draws near to the tourney trail.
“They are traditionally a really good program, and I don’t think we saw their best pitcher today, but we did have another great approach at the plate and produced some good swings,” Dages said. “On the mound I thought Hersh and Casey did a really nice job of keeping them off-balance.”
With Loudonville, St, Vincent-St. Mary and Garaway on the slate for their final week of regular-season play, Dages said they have some true challenges down the stretch.
Meanwhile, back at the ball park, the Hawks’ bats were mighty hot compared to the cold weather. After Hershberger struck out a pair in a perfect first inning, the Hawks came in and went to work. Tyler Kline walked and took second on a wild pitch, and after Hershberger moved him to third on a bunt single, he scooted home on a wild pitch. Andy Miller walked, both players moved up on a wild pitch, and Casey Kalman then lined a bullet to center to plate Hershberger and Miller for a 3-0 lead. An error and a bunt single by Kevin Borntrager loaded the bases, and Michael Shoup laced a two-run single to make it 5-0 after one inning.
Hershberger worked around a walk and an error in the second inning, and the Hawks earned their sixth run in the bottom of the inning when Andy Miller walked, Kalman raked a double and Drew Yoder smacked a sacrifice fly.
Hershberger cruised through the third inning, and the Hawks went quietly before Hershberger gave way to Lowe in the fourth inning. Lowe had to work to find his control, walking a pair but getting a key strike-out to end the inning.
Hershberger drew a walk to start the bottom of the fourth, Andy Miller singled him to third and Kalman worked a walk to load the bases. Yoder’s ground ball forced Hershberger at home plate for the first out, but Borntrager plated a run on a fielder’s choice to make it 7-0 through four.
Lowe was completely settled in for a quick fifth that saw him whiff three straight Colts, and the Hawks would come in and make short work of this one with a three-run fifth.
Shoup walked, Kline singled and Hershberger walked to load the bases. Andy Miller’s hard ground ball went through for an error that scored two runs to make it 9-0. The Colts chose to walk Kalman intentionally, setting up a force at home plate. However, that strategy took a turn for the worse when Yoder took three straight balls with a 1-2 count to come up with a walk-off walk for the 10-0 win.
“This was a really nice win for us against a good team,” Dages said.
The Hawks managed just seven hits but made the most of a whopping 10 free passes issued by Colts pitching. Kalman was the lone Hawk to record two hits, driving in a pair, while Shoup drove in a pair, Miller scored three times, and Hershberger and Kline each scored twice.
Both Hershberger and Lowe struck out four and walked a pair in their stints on the mound, Hershberger picking up the win to improve to 5-0 on the season. He currently boasts a sparkling 0.40 earned run average, and the Hiland pitching staff as a whole has given up just 20 runs this season in 17 games. The Hawks have helped themselves by not putting a ton of runners on base for free, issuing just over two walks per seven innings.
“We’ve got guys who keep it around the plate and don’t hurt themselves on the mound,” Dages said. “When we are making teams string hits together to beat us, it becomes that much tougher to do when we aren’t putting guys on base.”
Hiland kept on adding up the victories. In a Senior Night celebration against a strong Loudonville team, the Hawks took a 4-0 lead on the strong pitching effort of Ricky Miller and held on for the 4-2 victory.
Hiland took the early lead when Ryan Hershberger was hit by a pitch, advanced on Andy Miller’s single and scored when Drew Yoder shot one through the hole between third and short.
The Hawks got their final three runs in the second inning and looked ready to blow it wide open. Logan Miller tripled leading off and scored on Ricky Miller’s sacrifice fly. Kline then walked, stole second and cruised home on Hershberger’s double to left. Andy Miller then singled home Hershberger for the 4-0 lead, and after Kalman and Yoder walked, Kevin Borntrager flew out to dead-center to end the inning.
It was all Ricky Miller after that as the lanky right-hander cruised through the first five innings unscathed, allowing just the one hit.
However, in the sixth an error opened the door for the Redbirds. Miller started to tire and walked three batters around the error and a single that led to two unearned runs. He battled through the inning and finally got the final out on a strike-out.
Enter Casey Lowe in the final inning, and the sophomore was superb, getting a pair of strike-outs in a quick one-two-three inning that preserved the win.
Miller went six innings, striking out five and walking three while allowing two hits. Andy Miller recorded three hits while Logan Miller and Yoder each collected a pair.
One night later the Hawks took on Conotton Valley and won in an easy 12-1 victory.
Michael Shoup took the mound for the Hawks and was dominant in not allowing the Rockets to blast off while Hiland got all it needed in the first inning.
Kline walked, took second on a ground out and scored on Andy Miller’s double. Kalman singled him to third, Yoder walked and Borntrager drove in a run with a ground out. After Logan Miller walked to load the bases, Ricky Miller unloaded them with a three-run double, and the Hawks led 5-0. After Brett Miller doubled home a run, Hiland had more than enough runs to win.
Doubles from Kobe Shetler and Kalman led to a run in the second inning, and Borntrager’s single drove in Kalman for an 8-0 lead. The Hawks got an unearned run in the third, and the Rockets got an unearned run in the fourth, but Hiland put it away in the fifth with the big blow from Shetler’s two-run triple.
Kalman banged out three hits and scored a pair, Kobe Shetler had two hits and drove in three, Borntrager had a pair of knocks while driving in two, and Ricky Miller produced three RBI in the win.
Shoup picked up the complete-game five-inning win by twirling a four-hitter, allowing no earned runs while striking out three.