One bad inning put Highland in a big deficit in their Division II baseball district semifinal match with Granville at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
While the team rallied to get within two runs after four innings of play, they weren’t able to get over the hump and wound up falling by a 10-6 margin to end their season with a 19-9 record that included KMAC and sectional titles.
Throughout the game, the Scots were hurt by walks. While both teams tallied 10 hits in the contest, four Highland pitchers combined to walk eight batters and hit two others.
“Against an offense like Granville’s, that’s really tough,” said head coach Don Kline. “If you give free baserunners, that’ll happen.”
After neither team got on the board in the first quarter, Highland starter Tate Tobin, who suffered the loss to finish his senior year with a 6-3 record on the mound, got a quick first out in the second. However, he would then give up an infield single and two consecutive walks to load the bases.
An errant pitch brought in Granville’s first run of the game and another wild offering on ball four made it 2-0. The bases would be loaded again when the next batter was hit by a pitch and the Blue Aces followed that with a two-run hit to lead by four. Jack Weaver took Tobin’s place on the mound and was able to get out of the inning, although two inherited runners scored to but Highland in a 6-0 hole.
In the bottom of the third inning, Reese Weissenfluh reached base via single and was knocked in by a Mack Anglin hit, but Granville tallied a score in the top of the fourth to regain a six-run lead at 7-1.
However, the Scots got back into the game with a strong fourth frame. With one out, Jarin Vasquez and Zach Wetzel drew walks. Granville recorded the second out of the inning, but Highland would then get four consecutive RBI singles, as Tobin, Weissenfluh, Anglin and Clay Matthews all brought runners home with hits.
“It was one of those things where the boys kept fighting,” said Kline. “We’re an experienced team that knows it’s never over. Fighting all the way to the end and our approaches were good, but that’s a real good baseball team in Granville.”
Unfortunately for Highland, that 7-5 deficit was as close as they would get, as Granville tallied one run each in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. During that stretch, Highland was only able to score once, as Tobin led off the sixth with a single, moved to second on a balk, took third on a passed ball and was sacrificed in by Anglin.
Tobin, Weissenfluh and Anglin all had two-hit games for Highland. Weaver, Ian Taylor and Owen Mott joined Tobin on the mound, with the quartet surrendering 10 hits while striking out five.
After the game, Kline noted that the Highland team will have a very different look next year after graduating a large senior class in Anglin, Tobin, Vasquez, Matthews, Weissenfluh and Taylor — all of whom had big contributions to the team’s success.
“This is one of the greatest senior classes at Highland,” he said. “A lot of them replaced a good senior class in ‘16 and took their lumps in ‘17 and learned from it.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS