The Highland baseball team saw its season ended by Bishop Watterson on Monday by a 2-1 count.
The Scots led the game, which was hosted by Olentangy High School, after scoring in the second inning, but gave up a pair of runs in the fourth frame to see their postseason run end in the district semifinals.
“Watterson is one of the more fundamentally good teams in the district,” said Highland coach Don Kline. “We tip our caps to them. They did a good job of keeping us close to first base and took us out of our offense.”
Early in the game, the Scots were able to put runners on base with frequency, but struggled to get them across home plate. In the first inning, they had three batters reach base, but one was picked off and the other two were stranded.
While they put a run across in the second, they left the bases loaded when the third out was recorded. Reese Weissenfluh opened with a single. With one out, Drew Duncan drew a walk from Matt Dockman. Then, after the second out was recorded, Tate Tobin was hit by a pitch. Clay Matthews gave Highland a 1-0 lead with a single, but Watterson would get out of the inning with no further damage done.
After the game was completed, Kline noted that for his team to take the next step, they’d have to improve in some facets of the game that they struggled with against Watterson.
“The fundamentals and little things,” he said. “We had three guys thrown out on the bases today.”
Highland would maintain its 1-0 lead until the bottom of the fourth inning. After pitching three shutout innings, Max Schreiber got into trouble by walking Will Davis and giving up back-to-back singles to Cole Andrews and Casey Douthitt to load the bases with no one out.
A sacrifice fly by Cal McAninch and a groundout by Connor Hoyng both brought in a run, giving Watterson a 2-1 advantage before Schreiber finished off the inning by recording a strikeout.
“I thought Max did a great job on the mound,” said Kline. “He did a good job of keeping them off-balance. In the inning he had trouble, it started with a lead-off walk.”
Highland had a golden opportunity to tie the score in the fifth inning, as a fly ball by Matthews was misplayed to give the Scots their lead-off runner on second base. An errant pitch allowed Matthews to move to third, but when Lane Ballard hit a ground ball, he was thrown out at the plate and Dockman was able to recover to strike out two straight batters to get out of the inning.
After Schreiber walked the leadoff batter in the bottom of the fifth, Mack Anglin took over on the mound and gave the Scots two shutout innings. Unfortunately, the team would be unable to get into scoring position. In the sixth, Matt Reid got a one-out single, but, once again, Dockman was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to keep Highland off the scoreboard.
Then, in the seventh, Matthews reached first on a Watterson error. However, a Lane Ballard grounder led to Matthews getting thrown out at second and Ballard would eventually be picked off first to end the game.
Kline noted that he was working with a young team this year after graduating nine seniors from the 2016 team. While he didn’t have a great deal of experience, he said that his veterans prevented a slow start from turning into a poor season, as they improved from 3-7 to the 15-11 mark they finished the year with.
“This was a very young team,” he said. “We were 3-7 at one time and it would have been easy to let the season run off the tracks. Our seniors did a great job. This is the first time in a few years we made it out to districts. That experience is the biggest thing. Once you get a bite of this, you get an appetite.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS