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BERLIN -- The defending Div. III state champion Hiland Hawks opened tournament play Tuesday night as though they had something to prove, punishing the Seminoles of Monroe Central 15-2 in five innings at Lehman Field in Berlin.
The win improved Hiland's record to 22-0 and advanced the Hawks to the Div. III sectional semifinal on Tuesday against the winner of River and Newcomerstown.
Only one team did not vote for the Hawks as top seed in the Eastern District Div. III tournament and that team was Monroe Central, and the Hawks wasted no time proving the Seminoles wrong.
The Hawks tallied six times in the first inning on a double by Chris Kline, a walk, two hit batsmen, and singles by Andy Miller and Cameron Miller.
Mitch Massaro came to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. A pair of wild pitches plated a pair and a ground out scored a third run to give the hosts a 6-0 lead.
They made it 9-0 in the second inning, scoring three unearned runs after Seminole left fielder Ryan Lafollete missed a fly ball by Tyson Gingerich.
Ryan Hershberger singled home the speedy Gingerich and Andy Miller reached on an infield single.
Cam Miller then laced a two-run single for a 9-0 lead.
Singles by Massaro, Derek Miller, Bryan Yoder and a two-run single by Andy Miller, who scored on a hit by Cordell Miller, made it 15-0 Hawks after three innings of play.
Braden Mast worked two hitless innings against the Seminoles to earn the win. After a soft line drive to second for the first out of the game, Mast recorded five straight strikeouts in a dominant performance.
Derek Miller worked the third inning giving up a walk and striking out one.
Gingerich was tagged for a run in the fourth on two hits and Luke Weaver gave up an unearned run in the fifth.
"The nice thing about those kinds of games is, everybody played," Hiland coach Tom Gibson said. "I got a lot of guys in and they all got experience. Everybody played. To me, that's important.
"Obviously, that team was not very good," the coach continued. "They started eight freshmen, and it showed."
Andy Miller had three hits, drove in a pair and scored three times to lead the Hiland offensive attack. Cam Miller added two singles and two RBIs.
Hiland outhit the Seminoles 12-3.
The Hawks have a busy schedule the rest of the week with two Inter-Valley Conference games against Garaway and Sandy Valley and a non-conference clash against D-I powerhouse Massillon Jackson.
"It's tough to play games like this when you have important games remaining," Gibson said. "I'd rather stay on an even keel than have games like this and then have to get back up to play Garaway and Jackson."