Highland holds off Springville
Highland baseball used a couple of early runs to help jump-start themselves on Tuesday night.
The Huskies took a 4-0 lead after four innings, and shut down Springville’s rally in the seventh to take a district win 4-2, advancing to face Lisbon on Thursday night.
“We struggled just a bit in the sixth inning and had an error or two,” Highland head coach Mike Mills said. “ (Freshman pitcher) Chase Rath came in and has been great for us all year. He’s come in during many high-pressure situations and got the job done. When we turned to him on Tuesday he got us out of a jam and finished the game in the seventh.”
Rath pitched 1 2/3 innings for the Huskies, notching his fifth save of the season while giving up a hit, walk and a run while striking out two batters in relief.
The run he gave up was only the third earned run he has given up in 23 innings of work all season, as he holds a 0.91 ERA.
Starter Jacob Wilson earned the win in the game, going 5 1/3 innings and giving up four hits, four walks and one run, while striking out seven batters.
“Jacob pitched a great game,” Mills said. “He’s done a great job all year of keeping the ball down in the strike zone. We tell our pitchers to try to induce a ground ball so we can make a play. He was getting on top of hitters in the count and did a good job of it.”
Highland started off the scoring in the playoff opener with a run in the second inning, then the Huskies strung together three runs in the fourth to open up a 4-0 lead.
Despite allowing runs in the sixth and seventh innings, Highland was able to finish off the game and advance to the next round.
“It’s huge to get on top early and play from on top,” Mills said. “You aren’t trying to have to come from behind. It adds a lot of mental pressure to the hitters knowing they are behind, thinking that they need to make something happen. For us, getting up early is key. We aren’t a high-scoring team, and we’ve won a lot of close ballgames because of our pitching.”
Highland is no stranger to close games, as this game against Springville was the 10th game of the season decided by two runs or less. The Huskies are 8-2 in those games.
Lisbon and Highland met earlier in the year, but that game didn’t fall in that category as Lisbon shut out the Huskies 11-0 at Highland.
“Lisbon handed it to us in the championship game of our own tournament earlier in the year, so we are looking to redeem on that loss,” Mills said. “The kids have a very positive mindset going into this game, and winning on Tuesday was a great boost for our outlook; and I thought going in, that with our strong pitching and good defense, that we would be in every game and we can do the same tonight against Lisbon.”
The game will begin at 7 p.m. and will take place at Lisbon.