· Baseball - Holmes County ·

Hiland hurries to victory in 1-0 squeaker over Garaway

Pirates' and Hawks' game is over in a flash

For a short period on Thursday, April 26 on The Hill in Sugarcreek, it seemed as though those in attendance at the Garaway and Hiland baseball game had entered some weird time continuum that sped up the world.

The Inter-Valley Conference South game blazed along at an alarming clip, and less than 52 minutes in, the two teams were in a scoreless deadlock. That ended in the eighth inning when Hiland plated the game’s lone run to produce a 1-0 victory, but the talk after the game centered around the impressive effort of Garaway’s starter Josh Yoder and Hiland pitcher Cordell Miller.

Both pitchers had complete control of their stuff, easily moving in and out of innings, working ahead of nearly every hitter and exhibiting complete dominance.

It is rare for a high school game to see that kind of command and effortless presence from both pitchers, but that is what took place, which helped the game fly by in a flash.

“Josh has been phenomenal over his past few starts,” Garaway head coach Justin Elmore said. “I asked him in the seventh and again in the eighth if he was ready to come out, and he said he had plenty left. He has grown up so much this year. Both he and Cordell did a great job of working ahead, working out of spots and allowing their defense to make plays behind them.”

“These two teams always get up to play this game, but tonight both of these pitchers were absolutely dominant, and they battled right up to the end,” Hiland head coach Chris Dages said. “The defenses were good, and that made it a fun game to watch. They made it very difficult on the other’s offense to produce any runs.”

Neither team could muster much of a challenge as Miller and Yoder went about the business of making sure everyone was able to get home for the NFL draft at 8 p.m. that night.

And when teams tried to take a base via the steal, both Garaway catcher Trevor Donaldson and Hiland catcher Cameron Miller proved up to the task by gunning down would-be thieves.

Whenever either team had an opportunity, the opposing defense stepped up and made big plays to keep things in a scoreless deadlock.

The Hawks finally found a way in the top of the eighth when Michael Miller laced a double to the gap in left center. He was bunted over by Andy Miller, and Ryan Hershberger’s long sacrifice fly plated the game-winning run.

Garaway had one more shot, but Damien Kandel made a diving catch in right field for the second out of the eighth, and after Austin Fearon kept the Pirates alive by lashing a single to center, Cordell Miller got a ground out off the bat of Donaldson to end the game.

While disappointing, Elmore said he was excited about how his team battled and executed.

“I can’t ask anything more from my kids,” Elmore said. “I’m not disappointed in anything. We just played a really great baseball game. Our pitching was phenomenal, our defense played well, Hiland made a couple of big plays in key spots and we didn’t come up with that one big hit when we needed it. That’s baseball.”

The Pirates have now gone extra innings with Hiland and Indian Valley and were beaten 2-1 by the Braves over the past week. That is three close losses to the two top teams in the area.

After receiving news that it would have to forfeit five losses due to an ineligible player competing this season, Garaway may be the most dangerous 3-12 team in Ohio.

“This is a builder for us,” Elmore said. “We’ve gone toe to toe with Indian Valley twice and Hiland since last Saturday, and we aren’t going to get any better tournament preparation than this. I am very proud of who we are right now.”

Meanwhile, after hammering the tar out of the baseball for awhile, the Hawks have found runs tough to come by. They beat St. Vincent-St. Mary 3-1 and then fell to Ridgewood’s Kaden Smith 5-0, garnering just a single hit. Now a one-run game in eight innings against the Pirates marks three straight struggles for the Hawks. However, the quality of talent on the mound may have something to do with that.

“That’s baseball. One minute you’re on fire; the next you’re not,” Dages said. “You just have to keep battling. You can’t allow yourselves to get into a mental funk. The swings still look good. It is just a matter of staying focused. Once we get a few key hits, we will start stringing things together again. And the level of pitching we have seen the past three games has been pretty impressive.”

The Hawks are 13-3, and their lone loss to Ridgewood keeps them tied atop the IVC South with Indian Valley.

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