Former Cleveland Indians closer Cody Allen used to nibble and pick his way through save situations. He would be in constant trouble, allowing base runners all over the place before usually locking down a save.
He was effective but gave fans heartburn in the process.
Perhaps he should take notes from Andy Miller.
In a fantastic game between two of the area’s top programs, Hiland came away a 3-1 victor over Indian Valley on Wednesday, April 10, and it took Miller all of nine pitches to earn a save as the Hawks handed the Braves their first loss of the season.
Kobe Shetler took the mound for the Hawks while the Braves countered with star hurler Cade Williams in what was expected to be a low-scoring game. It definitely was as both pitchers proved to be very tough, each team allowing few hits.
Each team committed a run in the first inning, and while it didn‘t hurt the Hawks, it did hurt the Braves when Ryan Hershberger singled, reached third base on a throwing error and rode home on Casey Kalman’s sacrifice fly.
Both pitchers sailed through the second inning quickly, and while Shetler mowed down the Braves in the top of the third, Hiland struck again in the bottom of the frame. Hershberger once again instigated the scoring effort by drawing a one-out walk. Miller then scorched a triple into the right-field corner to make it 2-0. Williams escaped further damage when third baseman Dalton Burcher made a nice play on Kalman’s one-hop bullet, firing home to nail Miller, who was off on contact.
Shetler cruised through the fourth and was in total control, and Williams allowed a pair of walks but got through the fourth inning without being scored on to keep Hiland’s lead at 2-0.
Hershberger came on in relief of Shetler and zoomed through the fifth, as did Williams, who worked around a Kalman single.
Indian Valley finally cracked the scoreboard in a wild sixth inning that could have been very bad for the Hawks. After Braeden Lehigh lined out to right and Kyle Enos grounded out to Drew Yoder at third, Burcher drew a walk, and Williams lashed a single to left. With two outs Karson Hartrick hit a routine pop-up on the grass between third and short. Miller and Yoder converged, as did indecision, and the ball fell untouched, loading the bases. Tanner Myers then drew a walk to force in one run, but Hershberger worked his way out of more trouble by getting Ryan Berger to fly out to deep left field.
In came the Hawks, and they quickly responded by getting that one run back off of reliever Kyle Enos. Kevin Borntrager singled sharply through the left side and took second on an error. Brett Miller then laced a single to right to move Borntrager to third, and he scampered home on a wild pitch to give Hiland a 3-1 edge.
That set the stage for Andy Miller to enter the game to close the door, and he did so in quick fashion to secure the win for Hiland, inducing two harmless ground outs and a pop out to third to end the game.
With the victory the Hawks take over sole possession of the lead in the Inter-Valley Conference South division, improving to 6-0 while handing Indian Valley its first loss in both the league and the regular season.
Hiland limited the Braves to just three hits on the evening while the Hawks managed to produce just five off of two Indian Valley pitchers. Shetler picked up the victory and has not given up a run in 12 innings of work this season.