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MILLERSBURG -- Little things mean a lot. In baseball, they've got to be done to beat fundamentally sound teams. And in the opener of a twinbill Saturday at West Holmes, the Knights failed to get the little things done and the visiting Hawks of Hiland made the hosts pay, posting a 6-2 decision.
In the nightcap, West Holmes committed three errors and gave up four runs in the first inning on one hit, and things snowballed from there as Hiland rolled to a 13-2 five-inning run-rule victory and a sweep of the doubleheader.
"They're so good at doing the fundamental things, all the little things they do so well like moving runners, plying solid defense, hitting the cutoff man," said West Holmes coach Bill Pim. "It was 1-1 going into the fifth (of the opener) and they got three in the fifth and two in the seventh.
"We didn't capitalize on the chances we had," the coach continued. "We left runners on base, and didn't move them up when we should, missing bunts but the good news is, we're not that far away. We have to keep reminding ourselves that it is still early. When we play well, we look pretty good. We've just got to carry it from game to game."
Damien Kandel, who worked 3 1/3 innings of relief to pick up the win on the hill in the opener, got things rolling for the Hawks offensively with a double to right field.
Leadoff hitter Chris Kline bunted Kandel to third and was safe when first baseman Jacob Donaldson missed the tag of the diving runner. Tyson Gingerich then drove home the tying run.
The Hawks loaded the bases, but a pair of fine plays by shortstop Trenton Yoder got starting pitcher Kendrick Wagler off the hook in Game 1 with the score tied at 1-1.
Hiland broke things open in the fifth inning when Kandel got hit by a pitch to get the rally rolling. Kline singled him to third and he scored on a balk. Gingerich then walked and Bryan Yoder drove in Kline with sacrifice fly. Hiland tacked on two insurance runs in the top of the seventh when Braden Mast greeted reliever Carter Hahn with a bases-loaded single.
"We got some timely hitting and played some really good defense," said Hiland coach Tom Gibson. "Damien got the kiss of death with those walks. You can't do that. You can't walk and you've got to finish. We had a real good run of not walking guys."
Kandel got the win in relief of Mitch Massaro, who gave up a run on three hits over the first three innings. He struck out three and walked one. Kandel gave up a run on two hits, walking three.
Slade Barnes and Brenden Bridenthal led the West Holmes attack with two hits apiece.
In the nightcap, a walk to the leadoff hitter, followed by an errant throw that hit the runner, another error, a walk and a two-run single by Ryan Hershberger gave Hiland a 4-0 lead after one.
That was more than enough for run support for Derek Miller, who held the Knights scoreless until the fourth when a hit batsman, a double by Drew Campbell, an RBI single by Bridger Cline and a run-scoring groundout by Jacob Donaldson cut the lead to 10-2.
The wins improved Hiland's record to 5-0 on the season, while West Holmes dipped to 2-4.