HIGHLAND — After collecting four of Highland's eight stolen bases Wednesday, Mitch Carriger showed his speed can be just as intimidating as a powerful hitter.
Carriger stole second and third in the top of the eighth inning and scored the go-ahead run on an infield single by Jake Haberer as the Bulldogs edged Triad 8-5 in a Mississippi Valley Conference game.
"We don't buy that philosophy '(don't make the) third out at third base,'" said Highland coach Joel Hawkins, whose team bunts and steals and pressures opponents as much or more than any other in the region. "That's a routine ground ball that Jake hit, but because they're playing in with Mitch at third, their kid had to dive for it and all that."
Carriger, who has 16 stolen bases in 12 games, also got the pitching win with 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.
Highland shortstop Joseph Duncan also had a day to remember, closing out the scoring with a two-run homer to left in the eighth off Triad reliever J.T. Barras. Duncan finished with five RBIs and also had a two-run triple in the third and an RBI single in the sixth.
"And a foul ball off his knee, which I don't even know how you do that," added Hawkins. "He really is a talented kid, he's got great speed and a great arm. He has quick-twitch hands and we're excited about him because he's got a lot of extra-base hits already this year. He's certainly very capable."
Highland (10-2) improved to 2-0 in the MVC while Triad (8-5) fell to 0-2 in a game that dragged on for nearly 2 1/2 hours.
"We kept fighting," Duncan said. "It took a lot because the same thing happened last year where we lost in the seventh inning. We kept fighting and we got them back."
Carriger walked in the first, then stole third with two outs. He scored on an infield error and his speed led directly to a run.
The only speed Triad needed to tie it in the first was the force generated by the powerful bat of senior slugger and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville recruit Keaton Wright.
Wright crushed his second homer this season to dead center and it left the park over the 385-foot sign. He has 15 RBIs in 13 games.
Duncan's two-run triple highlighted Highland's three-run third inning as the Bulldogs built a 4-1 lead. Triad got a run back in the third, then tied it with two runs in the fourth on an RBI single by Lucas Criley and Cody Massey's sacrifice fly.
Duncan gave Highland a 5-4 lead in the sixth, but Triad fought back to tie it again on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Carpenter.
It hasn't been an easy week for Triad, which lost 8-7 to Mascoutah on Monday in a game the Knights led 7-0 and held the Indians hitless through five innings.
Mascoutah got four runs in the sixth and four more in the seventh to escape with a win.
"It's been a rough week, but I'm encouraged by the way we competed and there's a long way to go," Triad coach Jesse Bugger said. "That was a tough one to swallow the other night. To come back and compete like this ... I don't think it's too difficult for our kids to get excited about playing Highland."
Criley was a major force defensively for Triad. He sprinted with his back to home plate and robbed Highland's Tyler Zappia of at least a double in the fifth, then hauled in another long drive off Zappia's bat in the sixth.
"His kid in center field won a Gold Glove tonight," Hawkins said of Criley, who stole another hit from Highland with a diving, sprawling catch of a sinking line drive off the bat of Nick Balkenbusch in the seventh. "Our one kid hit the ball 800 feet between his two at-bats and he caught both of them back there, then he made that play on the line drive that was just spectacular."
Bugger was also appreciative of Criley's performance.
"He's one of the best, if not the best, defensive center fielders that we've had," Bugger said. "He can go get a ball. He's just got really good instincts out there and plays hard."
Althoff 3, Nashville 1
Bryce Richter pitched out of difficult situations twice in the early innings and held Nashville to five hits while striking out six in a complete-game performance.
"He pitched out of a couple jams, but overall he really threw well," said Althoff coach Brett Isaacs, whose 6-7 team has left some recent defensive issues in the rear-view mirror. "We worked really hard on that last week in practice trying put extra pressure on them and the kids really responded well. Confidence is a wonderful thing."
The Crusaders got two runs in the second and another in the sixth, taking advantage of five Nashville errors. Luke Frazier had two hits for Althoff while Ben Hankammer drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.
With runners at second and third in the Althoff second following a double steal, a Nashville error allowed two runs to score.
Singles by Atlee Champion and Frazier and a sacrifice bunt led to another run in the sixth on Hankammer's sacrifice fly.