Usually in a rain-out, neither team is a monumental winner or loser.
However, recently a rained out game led to heartache for one team, a team that wasn’t even involved in the initial rain-out.
When the Hiland Hawks game versus state-ranked Chippewa was rained out Thursday, April 28, the team that suffered the most was the Sandy Valley Cardinals.
That was because thanks to the rain-out, the Cards got to enjoy the pitching of Hiland ace Eric Mullet.
Mullet, whom Hiland coach Tom Gibson had tabbed to start the big game versus the Chipps, toted an Ohio High School athletic Association record 74-1/3 straight innings without allowing an earned run.
That number grew to 81-1/3 when Mullet flipped a tidy little three-hitter to lead the Hawks to a 4-0 victory.
The win improved Hiland’s record to 17-2, and they remained spotless in Inter-Valley Conference play, delivering a key blow to the one team that was still within striking distance of catching them.
“Staying perfect in league is something meaningful to these guys,” said Gibson of the three-year stretch of having not lost a league game.
With Mullet on the mound throwing goose eggs inning after inning, that streak wasn’t likely to stop on this night.
The Hawks got all the runs they would need in the second inning off of Sandy Valley starter Nelson Mazden, who threw pretty well himself outside of the one bad inning.
Mitch Massaro started the second with a single to center, before being forced at second base by Tyson Gingerich. Braden Mast then singled, as did Kobe Miller, and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Derek Miller plated a run. Andy Miller then reached on an error to plate one run and Chris Kline singled in another to make it 3-0.
Three runs isn’t insurmountable, but when Mullet is on the mound, it is a much tougher task than against many hurlers.
Mullet allowed individual singles in the second and third innings, and walked a batter in the fourth. He allowed a single in the fifth, but no runner got to second base for the Cardinals.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Hawks tacked on an insurance run. Gingerich walked and Mast dropped down a beautiful bunt single to start the inning. Both moved up a bag on a wild pitch, and after Kobe Miller walked to load the bases, Derek Miller popped out to second before Andy Miller delivered a sacrifice fly to plate Hiland’s fourth run.
Mullet, who had struck out a pair in the fifth, struck out the side in the sixth as he only got stronger. He induced three straight Sandy Valley groundouts to end the game in the seventh, putting another stupendous piece of pitching in his scrapbook.
“He’s is just going to go out there, battle and not hurt himself,” said Gibson of Mullet.
Mozden scattered five hits, walked one and struck out none, but allowed just one earned run. Blake Offenberger pitched two scoreless innings in relief. Mast was the lone Hawk to collect two hits on the night, while Gingerich scored a pair of runs.
Mullet allowed three hits, walked one while striking out eight in the dominant performance, a performance the Cards would have never seen had it not bee for a rain-out one night earlier in a game in which they were not even involved.