High Flying Hawks: Hiland looks dominant in five-inning win over Toronto

Kevin Lynch
Wooster Daily Record

BOWERSTON — A 10-run fourth inning by hard-hitting Hiland had the Toronto Red Knights feeling blue, as the top-seeded Hawks defeated No. 2 Toronto 12-1 in five innings to advance to the Div. IV East District final Wednesday against fifth-seeded Strasburg.

The Hawks banged out 14 hits and junior hurler Caden Coblentz was dominant on the mound for the winners, who improved to 22-5. The Red Knights bowed out at 22-5.

Coblentz gave up a run on four hits, but was untouchable from the outset, striking out five of the first eight batters he faced. He finished with six strikeouts and one walk.

"Caden did a phenomenal job on the mound," Hiland coach Chris Dages said. "I was really happy with him. He was throwing his changeup, keeping those guys off balance and coming back with that hard fastball. He was doing a phenomenal job spotting his pitches and keeping the ball down in the zone."

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Dages also commended the work of his junior backstop, Danny Hostetler, who called all the pitches for Coblentz.

"Danny (Hostetler) was working hard on a hot day like this. It's not easy to be a catcher on days like this," the coach added. "He's put a lot of work in back there."

Hostetler praised his pitcher's effort as well.

"I read how their guys were reacting to the off-speed," Hostetler said. "Some guys were buckling, and some were chasing pitches in the dirt. Caden's change-up was amazing today. I think it was disgusting. It's a hard pitch to hit."

Coblentz also credited Hostetler with calling a great game. He said his off-speed was setting up his fastball.

Caden Coblentz filled up the strike zone with an assortment of off-speed pitches and well-located fastballs in Hiland's romp past Toronto.

"Danny knows exactly what I need to throw in every count," Coblentz said. "I didn't shake him off once today."

The Hiland coach also liked his team's approach at the plate, seeing a lot of pitches and putting a lot of pitches in play hard.

All nine batters contributed for the winners, including a 3-for-3 effort by Coblentz from the lead-off spot with a run scored. His battery mate Hostetler also went 3-for-3 with a double, an RBI and three runs scored.

Hiland scored two runs in the second inning, ignited by a Hostetler double down the right field line to open the frame. He moved up to third on a fly ball by Grady Monigold and scored on an errant throw on a ground ball hit by Connor Beachy, who then came around to score on a single by Wyatt Miller for a 2-0 lead.

"Early on we were executing our bunts, hitting the ball hard, right at them a couple times," Dages said. "It all came together that (fourth) inning. We were out the for a long time. I think I saw Connor (Beachy) at third a few times. That's what we want to do, especially at tournament time, is keep the pressure on and keep it rolling.

"Good teams like Toronto have the ability to come back, as you saw in the last inning when they got a few runners on and scored a run," the coach continued.

Hostetler got the 10-run rally in the fourth rolling with a single up the middle off starter Blake Close, who gave up two runs on five hits. Monigold greeted reliever Aiden Filby with a run-scoring double to the gap in left-center.

Beachy reached on an error by the third baseman, and a bunt single by Wyatt Miller loaded the bases with nobody out. Toronto changed pitchers again, this time bringing in Dominic Bousher. Coblentz drove home a run with a single and the bases remained loaded.

Cody Yoder unloaded them with a three-run double to give the Hawks a 7-0 lead. After moving up to third on a wild pitch, Yoder scored on a double by Colin Coblentz.

Brady Yoder swung and missed a strike three pitch that got past the catcher, putting runners on first and third, and Kaden Kandel drilled an RBI-single for a 9-0 lead. Hostetler added another run-scoring single and Monigold added a sacrifice fly for the first out of the inning.

Run-scoring singles by Miller and Caden Coblentz closed out the Hiland scoring before southpaw Drake Bousher picked a runner off base and got a ground out to end the inning.

"I'm proud of the way our kids came out and played and competed," said Toronto coach Brian Perkins. "We just ran into a bad inning. Kudos to Hiland. They hit the ball. We wish them luck the rest of the way in the tournament."

Dages said his team came out ready to play, with a nice, loose attitude, and he hopes they keep that going.

"We try to approach every game as just another game," Dages said. "We don't want to put too much pressure on ourselves going into a game, especially a tournament game. You don't want to get too tight."