Hillers Clinch Independent Conference Title

Andy Jasner, Special to The News Journal
Tower Hill clinched the Independent Conference baseball championship with a 4-1 victory over Tatnall on Thursday.
Stratton, Tower Hill one win away from undefeated regular season.

The fourth-ranked Hillers (19-0, 11-0) will attempt to secure a perfect regular season with another victory at Tatnall this afternoon.

"It means a lot for us to win the conference," said Tower Hill pitcher Will Stratton, who pitched a three-hitter with eight strikeouts. "One of our goals at the beginning of the season was to win the conference. Then we wanted to go undefeated. It puts us one step closer to the tournament.

"We want to make a statement," said Stratton, who has committed to Yale.

"All year long, we felt we were as good as any team in the state. We want to go deep and win the tournament if we can. That would be our last goal."

Tower Hill is on the verge of becoming the first team in Delaware to go undefeated in the regular season since St. Elizabeth went 19-0 in 2003. St. E lost to Archmere 3-2 in the quarterfinals of the state tournament.

The last team to finish with an unblemished record and also win the state championship occurred in 1989 when Sussex Central went 21-0.

For now, the Hillers are simply enjoying their success.

"It's just a progressive step for us," Tower Hill coach Billy Cannon said.

"We're really trying to gear ourselves up for the state tournament. It's nice to go undefeated. We have one more to go."

Stratton received some early offensive support as the Hillers scored two runs in the second inning and two in the fourth for a 4-0 lead.

Garrett Lyons ripped a two-run home run to center field in the fourth. The shot came with two outs.

That was more than enough for Stratton, who gave up his only run in the fifth on an RBI groundout by Jason Gaito, scoring Hunter Van Brussell.

In the seventh inning, Tatnall's Justin Perillo and Kip Skibicki hit back-to-back singles. They advanced to second and third with two outs but were left stranded when Gaito grounded out to second baseman Dan Boselli to end the rally.

"The kids feed off him [Stratton]," Cannon said. "For four years, he's been the man around here. Also, one of the things I like about this team, maybe more so than any other, is that everybody picks each other up. It's a great thing to see."

Posted Friday, May 18, 2007

Reprinted with permission of The News Journal