Highland struck first against Lakewood in a Division II district semifinal baseball game that took three days to complete, but the Lancers were able to forge in front and claim a 7-2 win at Don Edwards Field in Newark Wednesday.
The game was originally slated to take place on Monday, but heavy rains in the area postponed it to Tuesday. On that day, the Scots got out to a great start, getting a leadoff home run by Tate Tobin to take an early 1-0 lead. However, after Lakewood retired the next two batters, the weather forced another postponement, this time to Wednesday.
The Lancers opened the day by getting the third out of the first inning, but Scot pitcher Tobin recorded a pair of strikeouts on his way to ensuring Highland held a one-run lead after one.
However, Lakewood would not be shut out in the second frame. Tobin retired the first batter he faced, but then gave up a walk and infield single to put two on. A fly ball out brought the Scots one out away from escaping the inning with no damage done, but the next batter cracked a two-run single to give the Lancers a slim advantage.
Tobin drew a two-out walk in the third inning, but the team couldn’t muster any offense around him, setting the stage for a big bottom of the inning by Lakewood. In their half of the inning, six of their first seven batters reached base, with three scoring, even though they didn’t hit a single ball out of the infield.
“I tip my hat to them,” said Scot coach Don Kline about Lakewood. “They’re very athletic and well-coached. They put pressure on us and that’s the way you win games.”
Kline also noted that the Lancer pitcher did a great job of preventing his team from putting the same pressure on Lakewood.
“Christian Loethes is fantastic — he’s one of the better pitchers in central Ohio,” said the coach. “He did a great job and they kept us off balance.”
Highland had a chance in the fourth inning, as Mack Anglin led off with a double. However, he was called out in trying to stretch that hit into a triple and Loethes was able to retire the next two batters to record another scoreless inning.
Lakewood would increase their lead to a 6-1 margin after tallying another run in the fourth inning; however, the Scots would respond in the top of the fifth. With two outs, Bryce Geiger came to the plate and tallied an infield single. Clay Matthews then struck out, but was able to reach first on a wild pitch by Loethes on the third strike. Tobin then followed with a run-scoring double to cut the deficit to 6-2 before the Lancers were able to get out of the inning.
Unfortunately for the Scots, they weren’t able to add any more offense, while Lakewood tallied a sixth-inning score for insurance. Matty Reid reached base for Highland in the sixth inning and both Sam LoPiccolo and Matthews tallied seventh-inning singles, but all three runners were stranded.
Kline noted that it was tough for his team to have to prepare for their game three straight days, as well as having to stop playing on Tuesday after getting off to a fast start.
“Absolutely, it’s a challenge,” he said. “Dealing with Mother Nature in Ohio always brings a challenge. We told the boys that who’s tougher will move on and they were tougher today.”
Tobin suffered the loss in the game, while both Kyle Munday and LoPiccolo saw action in relief. Tobin led the team offensively with his home run and double, while Anglin also had a double.
Kline said that the team will have a new look next year, as they graduate eight seniors in Lane Ballard, Drew Duncan, Dana Hicks, LoPiccolo, Reid, Geiger, Munday and Cody Holtrey.
“This is one of the best senior groups I’ve ever coached,” he said. “They’re great and will be missed. They’re a loud and proud group and I hope the younger kids realize what they’ve done for our culture.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS