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Defending champion Hebron easily takes down Wesleyan

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Hebron's P.J. Westbury is congratulated by teammates after hitting a grand slam during Monday's game against Wesleyan.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Hebron's P.J. Westbury is congratulated by teammates after hitting a grand slam during Monday's game against Wesleyan.

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Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Hebron's Jordan Hillyer throws during Monday's game against Wesleyan.

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Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Hebron first baseman Benji Cash (20) attempts to tag out Wesleyan's Pierce Ostwalt during Monday's game.

DACULA -- Hebron's baseball program won the school's first state championship last year.

The Lions are off to a hot start this season and could bring the Dacula private school another title.

No. 3 ranked Hebron defeated Class AA state champion Buford in the season opener and on Monday topped traditional Class A power Wesleyan.

Pitcher Jordan Hillyer was dominant, throwing a one-hitter, while P.J. Westbury opened up the game with a third-inning grand slam. The duo helped the Lions to an 11-1 win over No. 2 Wesleyan, the first over the Norcross private school.

"It starts with pitching for us," Hebron coach Heath Kennedy said. "We haven't been that hot hitting, but we were able to square some up. Hitting is contagious."

Hillyer was dominant on the mound, pitching all six innings. The Kennesaw State signee struckout 10 and only allowed three batters on base. Brandon Moss got the only hit off Hillyer, while Pierce Oswalt and Jahmai Jones were hit by pitches.

"Hillyer is one of the better players in the county and he was on today," Wesleyan coach Brian Krehmeyer said.

Hillyer got all the help he needed offensively in the third inning. Tyler Hutch reached on an error, Nathan Holt doubled and Hillyer reached on a walk. Brady Shoppe had an RBI single and Westbury followed with a grand slam to make it 5-0.

"That was a big hit by P.J.," Kennedy said.

The big inning by Hebron (3-1) came off the arm of Wesleyan's Jamie Stark, who went four innings and allowed four hits, four earned runs and four strikeouts.

Hebron added two more runs in the fifth when Hillyer singled and Shoppe walked. Westbury drove in another run and Benji Cash had an RBI single to make it a 7-0 game.

"It certainly was an uphill battle," Krehmeyer said.

Wesleyan (3-4) got its only run in the sixth. Jones was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Moss followed with a single. Jones scored on what initially appeared to be a fouled pitch, but the umpire over ruled the call and allowed the run.

Hillyer regained form by striking out the next three batters to end the inning.

"That was huge. That's the best he's thrown all year," Kennedy said.

Hebron put the game away in the bottom of the sixth. Drew Coker and Hutch led off with singles. Hutch had two hits and reached base on two errors.

"(Hutch) sets the table for us," Kennedy said.

Holt and Shoppe (2-for-2) walked and Westbury (3-for-4) picked up his sixth and seventh RBIs of the game with a single. With the bases still loaded, Cash was hit by a pitch to bring in another run and make it 10-1. Peyton Coker drew a bases loaded walk to end the game at 11-1.

"We know the state championship goes through Hebron. We hope to have another chance against them," Krehmeyer said. "We're not going to hang our head. We're going to use this and learn from it."