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WOOSTER -- The Hiland Hawks wasted no time jumping all over West Holmes with nine runs in the first inning, adding on in every inning to post a 20-9 triumph over the Squires in six innings to claim the Wayne-Holmes Silver League championship Tuesday at PNC Park in Wooster.
West Holmes (15-6) handed Hiland (18-1) its only loss of the season on Saturday, forcing a winner-take-all battle Tuesday night, but a sloppy first inning provd costly for the Squires.
"These kids never gave up, we just made too many errors," said West Holmes coach Rader Eastep. "And that was too good of a team to make errors against. I said coming in, if we make too many errors and beat ourselves, it'll be a tough game and that's the way it turned out."
Leon Miller singled and stole second to start the game for the Hawks, starting a track meet that saw Hiland swipe five bases in the first inning.
Tony Yoder reached on an error and Jeff Todaro doubled home a pair. Jordan Wengerd walked and stole second, then Sean Troyer singled home Todaro and also stole second.
Garrett Shoup walked with one out and Kenny Weaver singled in a run to make it 5-0 Hiland, ending the day for WH starting pitcher Matthew Weaver. Rudy Hershberger threw a wild pitch on his first offering, allowing a run to score before striking out Fabryn Ryan.
Carson Yoder poked a single to right field, and then the next four batters walked, scoring Yoder and Leon Miller. A groundout to first mercifully ended the inning.
The Squires answered with two runs in the bottom of the first, three in the second and three more in the third to close within 11-8, but each time, the Hawks had an answer.
Jay Mast doubled and singled twice, driving home a pair, Matthew Weaver singled three times and Rudy Hershberger singled and doubled to lead the West Holmes attack.
"It felt like we were getting ourselves in trouble in the second and third inning," said Hiland coach Tim Yoder. "Give credit to them. Their kids never laid down after that first inning. But, our kids found it within themselves to rise up to the challenge after that.
"We really did a good job swinging the bats tonight," Yoder continued. "Our top five guys all hit the ball really well. Leon hit the ball hard and Tony had a couple shots right at 'em. We really squared up the ball."
Hiland scored four times in the fifth on a single hit, three walks and a three-base error that scored a pair. Hiland tallied three more in the top of the sixth to push the lead past 10.
Todaro paced the Hiland offense with three hits in four trips, banging two doubles and a triple. Leon Miller singled and walked three times scoring four, Jordan Wengerd went 2 for 2 with three runs scored and Sean Troyer singled twice with two RBIs.
"We didn't pitch our best tonight, but our kids battled," Yoder said. "Both sides struggled with the strike zone. We had high school umps that called things a little tighter than we're used to for most of the year. But he was good. Consistent. Our kids did a good job with that. They kept their composure."
Leon Miller worked the first three innings for the Hawks, giving up seven runs on 10 hits. Todaro worked two-plus innings, giving up a run, but after a walk and a single to start the sixth inning, Yoder replaced him with Sean Troyer. A ground ball loaded the bases, but he induced a come-backer that started a home to first double play and a soft liner to second ended the game.
"How many times do you see that in junior high?" Yoder asked of the 1-2-3 DP. "That was a great game-saver right there."
"When I came in, I was thinking 'I'm about to pitch the final inning in the championship game,'" Troyer said. "When I got that double play, it couldn't have been any better than that."
Hiland took advantage of 13 free passes issued by a quartet of West Holmes pitchers. Miller had one strikeout and walked a pair to earn the win for Hiland.
"The whole season, almost every game we've been down from the start and we usually come back," Eastep said. "We've been able to pick it up and come back at the end. Today, it was just too little, too late, plus we gave a pretty good opponent too much leeway."