Host Highland overwhelmed Centerburg in a Friday evening KMAC baseball match-up, recording 14 hits and 10 walks in collecting an 18-3 victory in five innings.
“That was not the way we scripted it in practice,” said Scot coach Donnie Kline. “But our offense clicked and we went with it.”
Highland tallied all of their runs during the first three innings. After starting pitcher Wyatt Groves pitched a three-up, three-down first inning, the Scots staked him to a quick five-run lead.
With one out, Randy Cain and Luke Cain drew back-to-back walks. Dom Carter drove in one run with the team’s first hit of the game. K.J. Johnson followed with an infield single to load the bases. A pop ball by Jon Jensen was dropped to bring in a run and a double steal then made it 3-0. Blake Jodrey then followed with a two-run single to add two more scores to the Scot tally.
Groves would put down the Trojans in order again in the second inning and his offense would reward him with four more runs in the bottom of the inning.
Both Randy and Luke Cain drew walks to open the winning and they would both cross home plate on groundouts by Carter and Johnson. Jensen would hit for two bases and Zach Pinkerton followed by drawing a walk. A single by Jodrey drove in one run and Brock Church would follow with a run-scoring hit to stake the Scots to a 9-0 lead.
After Groves’ third straight perfect inning, Highland then completely blew the game open with a nine-run third. Carter, Jensen, Pinkerton, Jodrey and Luke Cain all drove in runs with singles for the team, with Carter driving in three runs on two hits in the inning. Also, Rider Minnick and Hayden Kline brought in scores by drawing bases-loaded walks.
After the Scot offense had been at the plate for a 15-batter inning, Groves wasn’t as sharp in the fourth, giving up three runs before being replaced by Tyler Disbennett, who got the final four outs to finish the contest. Still, both Kline and the senior pitcher were pleased with his performance on the day, especially since he’d been roughed up a bit in his previous outing against Fredericktown.
“I was happy,” said Groves. “I was ready to come out and do that today. With the way I pitched last week, I hoped it wouldn’t happen again.”
Kline added: “I wouldn’t say I was nervous for him, but how’s he going to respond. He had a little hiccup against a good offense, but rebounded.”
Highland was 12-1 with the win, which improved to 14-1 after a pair of non-league games against River Valley on Saturday. Their only loss is to Fredericktown, as those two teams split their seasons series. Kline notes that being tied with the Freddies puts pressure on his guys to perform in every league contest.
“Every game is kind of a playoff for us,” he said. “Our goal is a conference championship.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS