Division IV Team Of The Week: Week 7 - Berlin Hiland


Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Senior Writer

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Division IV Team Of The Week: Week 7 - Berlin Hiland

BERLIN - A no-hitter in the sectional final and a one-run victory over a state-ranked Division III squad has Berlin Hiland ready to make another tournament run.

“After losing 2020 and all the experience these seniors would have gained, there were a lot of questions going into this season,” explained Chris Dages, head coach of the Prep Baseball Report Division IV Team  of the Week. “The team spent the off-season training hard with the goal of making a deep run in the tournament. Our record and play are a reflection of the time and energy our players have spent preparing for this season.”

The record now stands at 25-4 after a district semifinal victory over Shenandoah on Monday and the play has been outstanding, highlighted most recently by a Casey Lowe no-hit outing in a 10-0 win over Conotton Valley last Wednesday in which the senior fanned 11 in five innings. The Hawks then capped off the week with a 6-5 triumph over Waynedale on Friday.

“The way these players compete and mentally stay in every game has been vitally important and will continue to serve them well in the tournament,” Dages noted. “The games we've lost, we never felt like we were out of the game at any point. They competed, stayed positive and believed they had the ability to come back and win.”

Derrick Troyer has been a catalyst on the mound for the Hawks with a 9-0 record and 1.68 ERA. The Hiland senior has thrown 50 innings, averaging just 52 pitches per outing in five complete games.

But it was Lowe who was on the hill in the district semifinals Monday with a two-hit, 10-strikeout effort from the southpaw.

“The key for us will be our pitching and being clean on defense,” explained Dages. “If we don't give a team extra outs and we don't issue a lot of free passes, we will be in every game. Having big defensive errors in a game really hurt us in a few games, but we've been able to minimize those lately.

“We really stress to our pitchers that they need to challenge the hitters, if they get a hit, you just tip your cap and go after the next guy,” added the Hiland head coach. “We can't expect to win a lot of games if we are putting people on base with walks.”

The Hiland mentor points to offense as an area of the game that has perhaps been better than expected this year.

“The biggest surprise has been how well we've been hitting as a team,” Dages said. “We are currently hitting .369 and have scored 257 runs, while only giving up 64. 

“We have a number of guys, in several different categories, climbing the school's single season records chart. Jared Hostetler is currently tied for fifth in hits, fourth in stolen bases and sits alone at fourth for runs scored. Reece Schlabach is tied for first with triples and is currently fourth in RBIs, behind teammate Isaiah Miller who is third.”

Senior Isaiah Miller has been one of the leaders for the Hawks, winners of 11 of their last 12 games.

“Isaiah has been a rock for us this season, both at the plate and behind it,” Dages noted about the clean-up hitter for Hiland. “Defensively he frames the ball extremely well and calls a great game, knowing what is or isn't working for his pitcher that day. He does an excellent job of in-game management of the pitching staff. There have been many games, such as our game with Waynedale this past week, where the tying or winning run was on third and he has done an excellent job of keeping balls in the dirt in front of him. At the plate his biggest highlight was a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the seventh to defeat Triway 7-6 at Canal Park.”

Power is another area of the game Hiland has displayed during the campaign.

“Early in the season, in a home game with Ridgewood, we showed an unusual amount of power,” Dages reflected about a contest back in mid-April. “In the first inning we had back-to-back home runs from Reece Schlabach and Isaiah Miller. Then, in the bottom of the fifth, Casey Lowe walked it off with a grand slam to make the final 12-0.”

Up next is a district championship matchup with Shadyside, which knocked off defending D-IV champion Toronto on Monday.

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