Strong pitching by Mack Anglin and some timely hitting by the Highland offense led the Scots to a 4-1 sectional championship win over visiting Buckeye Valley in Thursday Division II baseball tournament action.
Anglin pitched a no-hitter and struck out 14 Barons in the game. His only nemesis in the contest was the strike zone in the fifth inning, as control issues led to BV’s only run. In that inning, the Scot star issued three walks and two wild pitches, allowing the Barons their only two runners to advance past first base and their only score on a close play at the plate.
“Mack was fantastic on the mound today,” said head coach Don Kline. “He didn’t allow a hit and in a tournament game, that’s something special. He’ll keep you in every baseball game.”
For the first four innings, Buckeye Valley ace Ben Atiyeh was almost as good. While he only recorded one strikeout during that time, he also only gave up one hit — a single to Clay Schindley — that immediately was erased by a double play grounder.
“Both teams knew they’d see each other’s ace,” said Kline. “We knew it’d be a race to three runs. It was one of those games where every at bat is magnified.”
However, in the bottom of the fifth, Atiyeh had his own issues with the strike zone and the Scots compounded those problems by getting some well-timed base hits.
Clay Matthews opened the inning by drawing a walk and was bunted over to second by Schindley. However, Atiyeh was able to record the second out of the inning, leaving him one out from escaping the inning unscathed. That out would be hard to come by, though. Freshman Rider Minnick cracked a single to drive in Matthews and tie the score at one.
“Against a good pitcher like that, you have to wait for your opportunities,” said Kline. “We got a big hit by freshman Rider Minnick. That kind of popped the bubble and got the zero off the board.”
Jarin Vasquez then walked to put runners on first and second. It looked like the inning would end when the next batter, Ian Taylor, hit a foul pop-up, but the BV catcher wasn’t able to secure the catch. Shortly afterward, Taylor drew a walk to load the bases for Tate Tobin, who drove in two runs with a hit. An RBI single by Reese Weissenfluh gave the team a 4-1 lead.
Kline felt his team’s experience allowed them to maintain their poise when trailing in a close tournament game.
“The thing about this team that makes them special is experience,” he said. “We’ve got a number of seniors and juniors. That’s what it comes down to. The boys were patient and didn’t panic.”
With the lead, the rest was elementary for the Scots. One runner reached base for the Barons in the sixth due to an error, but was stranded. Then, in the seventh, Anglin struck out the side to preserve the win and advance his team to Tuesday’s district semifinal contest against Granville.
After being eliminated in that round last year, Kline feels that to advance to the district finals, his team will have to show the same kind of poise they showed against BV.
“They’ve got to have a similar approach,” he said. “Throw strikes, play clean defense and put the ball in play. It’ll be a real good game and we’re excited to still be playing baseball.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS