By Jim Pruitt / Hillsdale Daily News
The Hillsdale Hornets destroyed an out-matched Webberville team Tuesday night to claim a share of the SMAA baseball conference title.
The Hornets celebrated their win by smashing a piece of cake into the face of coach Chris Adams who celebrated his birthday Tuesday as well. This was the school’s fourth conference title in five years.
The Hornets swept the Spartans in two mercy-rule shortened affairs, 12-0 and 18-3, to move 13-1 in the conference and 17-7 overall. Hillsdale’s lone league loss was to co-champion Western.
“It’s good to be co-champs if you are going to share it with a good team like Western,” Adams said. “We had two decent games against them and managed to run the table.”
The title sets the Hornets up for a deep run in the postseason, which Adams said is the program’s goal.
“It’s a sign of our success,” he said.
As for the Webberville sweep, Adams was happy to be able play everyone. The team responded with a 30-run, 32-hit attack that featured four home runs, and several extra-base hits.
Scott Lantis led the attack with a 6-for-8 day with three home runs and 10 RBIs to pace Hillsdale. Dillon Dirth had a two-run homer in the first game.
“What a day at the plate,” Adams said of Lantis’ effort. “We need him to start hitting the ball.”
Webberville played with only eight men in the first game due academic ineligibility of two players.
Hillsdale opened the first game by sending 10 men to the plate and scoring six times.
The highlight was Dirth’s blast.
Lantis homered his next two times up to round out the onslaught.
Mitchell Gabriele (3-2) went the distance (five innings), scattering three hits and two walks while striking out four.
Adams said the plan was to have Gabriele throw 100 pitches to save the Hornets others starters, Lantis and Dirth for the Jackson Citizen-Patriot Invitational Wednesday and Thursday.
In game two, Hillsdale sent 15 men to the plate in a 10-run first to ice the game.
Lantis hit a 2-run homer and the first six Hornets who batted scored. Four different players stole a base and Hillsdale exploited every Spartan mistake.
Webberville got on the board with three runs in the third, but the Hornets responded with five runs in their half to bring the game to a merciful end.
Gabriele (4-2) gave up three runs in 2 2/3 innings. Drew Byers finished out the frame.
Adams was pleased with the effort and stressed it was that kind of approach that will determine how successful the Hornets’ postseason run will be
The Hornets will play Jackson Northwest today. If they win, they will play the winner of Columbia Central and Western. If they lose, they will play the loser of the Western-Columbia game.
Hillsdale opens District play Saturday, May 30, at Hanover-Horton. They will play the winner of the Jonesville-Hanover game at 10 a.m.