(NOTE: Eye On Cleveland Founder John Kerezy is following the Hiland Hawks this season. He traveled to Holmes County on Wednesday afternoon to see the game. Here is his story.)
BERLIN, MAY 12 – Garaway took advantage of some uncharacteristic generosity from Hiland to post an 8-6 extra inning victory Wednesday night at Lehman Field.
The game was nearly the exact opposite of the 1-0 nail-biter which the Hawks won on Monday at Sugarcreek. In that contest Hiland played errorless baseball and its winning pitcher, Derrick Troyer, issued only one base on balls.
The Hawks entered action yielding just 1.5 walks per contest, and committing less than one error per game. But in the rematch, three different Hiland hurlers surrendered a total of 10 free passes to Garaway batters. The Hawks also committed three errors, all contributing to Pirate runs. Only four of the visiting team’s runs were earned.
But Garaway batters also took advantage of their opportunities. Down 1-0 in the fifth, the Pirates rallied back. Three consecutive singles loaded the bases, then senior Brock Keim lined a run-scoring single past a drawn-in Hawks infield. Sophomore Alexander Roden plated another run on a sacrifice fly, and an error on a routine ground ball gave Garaway its third run in the inning.
Hiland came right back in its half of the fifth when the Pirates turned charitable also. After two outs, Garaway pitching couldn’t find home plate. A single from senior Jared Hostetler, sandwiched between four walks – two with the bases loaded – tied the game at 3-3. The Hawks claimed a 4-3 lead when Nick Yoder was hit by a pitch with the sacks still full. Garaway Coach Justin Elmore then summoned Keim from his shortstop position to the mound. Keim induced senior Casey Lowe into hitting an inning-ending ground ball.
Keim continued on the mound for Garaway and eventually gained the victory in the contest by hurling three and one-third innings of work. He allowed two earned runs, but in a game which saw a combined total of 15 walks from all pitchers, Keim never yielded a free pass and threw first-pitch strikes to 13 of the 15 batters he faced.
The see-saw contest saw four ties and three lead changes, including in the top of the sixth when Garaway scored twice on just one hit to go up 5-4, again thanks to Hiland’s generosity. After one out, two walks, a wild pitch, and an intentional walk to Keim loaded the based for the Pirates. Hawk reliever senior Reece Schlabach got Wynston Troyer to hit a fielder’s choice ground ball, but then hit Roden with a pitch to force home the tying run. Freshman Zach Misko followed up with a single to left, bringing home Keim and giving Garaway the lead.
But the contest was far from over.
Garaway added what it believed would be an insurance run in the seventh. Junior Andon Keller singled to center, then a walk and another error set up a based-loaded situation. With one out, Keim hit a ground ball to deep short which scored Keller in a field’s choice. Troyer’s ground out ended the threat with the Pirates on top 6-4.
Then came another Hiland comeback in the bottom half of the seventh. Schlabach opened the attack with a double to right field, advanced to third on an Isaiah Miller ground-out, and then scored when Nick Yoder singled deep in the hole at short. Senior Collin Lowe reached base on a field’s choice, then proceeded to steal second. Senior Derrick Troyer responded with a solid single to center field, scoring Lowe on a close and disputed play at home plate.
Six six. Extra innings.
But Hiland wasn’t through playing Santa Claus.
Dakota Miller took over the mound duties, but after a ground ball out couldn’t find the strike zone. Walks to Garaway’s Misko, Kutter Hershberger and Keller loaded the bases once again, and then another costly error, this time at the plate, enabled both Hershberger and Keller to score. The Pirates were back on top 8-6 in the eighth inning, without the benefit of a single base hit.
Keim retired the Hawks 1-2-3 in the bottom of the eighth, and Garaway’s team and fans made the short drive home with the victory.
Zack Bickford, Brady Roden and Misko each had two of Garaway’s nine total hits in the contest. Keim and Roden had two RBIs each as well.
Nolan Yoder’s two hits and three RBIs paced Hiland. Hostetler and Troyer each had two hits, and Troyer, Schlabach and Tony Yoder also notched RBIs.
There was a lot of traffic and missed opportunities on the base paths for both teams. Garaway left 14 runners on base, Hiland 7.
Staff in the Press Box was playing Gord Bamford’s country song “Baseball Glove” between innings at the beginning of the contest. Perhaps they knew something the managers didn’t know. Later they switched to Johnny Cash songs.
About three-fourths of the stands were filled, and there were also plenty of folding chairs outside the fence along both the left and right-field foul lines. Attendance increased as the game continued, and it appears that more students from both schools made their way to Lehman Field than usual.
Garaway improved to 11-10 and 6-6 in the Inter-Valley Conference with the win. Hiland’s most recent win streak ended at five with the setback, yet the Hawks are still flying high at 19-4. But the loss drops their Inter-Valley Conference South mark to 8-4.
Tonight Hiland plays its second game of the season at Canal Park Stadium in Akron against 11-12 Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy. It’s senior night, and the Hawks’ seniors and their parents will be recognized on the field prior to the 6:30 game.