Brennan Hill is 3rd brother to reach LLWS
They are brothers, but family sporting events always remain fiercely competitive. The advantage Tyler and Drew Hill held over youngest brother Brennan the past year was the Little League World Series.
Tyler and Drew both played for Grosse-Pointe Wood-Shores Little League at the Series in 2013 and 2017. Both reaching the Series seemed pretty remarkable and a third brother playing here almost seemed beyond belief. Whatever the score, Tyler and Drew could hold their Series experience over Brennan.
Brennan has become the third Hill brother to play at the Series, helping Grosse-Pointe make its fourth appearance overall and third since 2013. Tyler played on the 2013 team, Drew played last year and now Brennan is making his mark. All three are joined together, becoming the first brotherly trio in history to play at the Series three different times.
This also has all three brothers on level ground these days.
“Brennan felt it (the pressure). Me and Drew give him a hard time about it, although we were never serious about it. Now he can give us crap,” said Tyler, who will play at Lansing Community College as a freshman next spring and who has received a Division I offer from Ball State. “Brennan has worked really hard. He’s the youngest and is always getting pushed around, but we can’t say anything to him now because he’s with the big boys.”
One might have a better chance of winning the lottery than achieving what the Hills have. That goes double for their father Jason who also coached at last year’s Series. Having one son compete at the Series can be a parent’s dream. The same goes for coaching here.
To experience what the Hills’ parents have, borders on the surreal.
“When Tyler went in 2013 we obviously really embraced the experience because that’s something not a lot of kids get the opportunity do and a lot of families don’t get to travel and watch their kids in Williamsport. To have three kids play here is indescribable,” Jason said. “We’ve been very fortunate that all three played with great teammates and great coaches and for a Little League that is very supporting of all the tournament teams.”
Grosse-Point manager Kurt Barr joked with Jason following a 13-0 Great Lakes championship win against Indiana, saying the pressure was off him after helping a third Hill son reach the Series. Really, though, the pressure was on Hill’s parents. They knew how unlikely it was to have two sons play at the Series, let alone three. So many things have to go right and so many games have to be won to make the dream a reality.
One bad day, one bad hop, one dominant pitcher can end any team’s run. The challenge was balancing Brennan’s desire with the reality that a Series berth seemed so improbable. Then Brennan and his teammates won district, state and regional championships while entering the Series 14-0. The pressure was off and the real fun began.
“I’d be lying if I said I thought we’d be back doing this a third time. I told him last year that this was probably the last time we would be able to come here for a while, so enjoy it,” Jason said. “It’s amazing to see him achieve it and it’s something you can’t take for granted. It’s such a great experience.”
“We tell him to have just fun,” Tyler said. “We tell all the kids to play hard and whatever happens, happens.”
Tyler and Drew have been there every step of the way. They lived the dream and knew first-hand how special it was. While they may compete against each other at times, there is a special brotherly bond. More than anything they hoped their dream could become Brennan’s.
That became reality as the fairy-tale added another memorable chapter in the Great Lakes final. Brennan took center stage on national television, playing one of his best games yet. The left-hander threw a one-hitter, struck out nine, homered, double and drove in three runs as Grosse-Pointe overwhelmed Indiana. The brothers shared a special moment afterward. And it was really hard telling who was happiest.
“Having 3 siblings close in age, they are all very competitive, so they give each other a hard time but once the games started, they became his two biggest fans,” Jason said. “Those two were more excited to see him go than when they went themselves. They are so happy he gets this opportunity.”
Brennan is a big reason this opportunity came about. He has been a tough out in the middle of the lineup, has excelled as a pitcher and provided a weapon in right field. Hill put together a dominant regional, hitting three home runs in four games and also struck out a regional-best 21.
In addition to hitting so well, Brennan throws over 70 miles per hour and features knee-buckling off-speed pitches. He is becoming the total package.
“He’s very valuable for us,” Grosse Pointe coach and league president Melissa Henderson said. “When you have a big lefty throw as hard as he can, if his off-speed stuff is working, he can be pretty ridiculous. He puts in a lot of hours to keep getting better.”
Now the Hill’s stand alone. Together, they have done something no other family ever has. However this Grosse-Pointe journey ends, the Hill’s are linked by name and history.
And you better believe Brennan is just like his older brothers.
“It’s so hard to get here. When his second brother did it last year everyone joked that the pressure was on him, really thinking there was no way it would happen,” Barr said. “It’s crazy. You couldn’t ever write a story and try and predict something like this.”