MASCOUTAH — Line drives were scarce Monday with a pair of aces on the mound and first place on the line in the Mississippi Valley Conference.
Highland senior Jake Haberer tossed a one-hitter and struck out seven as the Bulldogs remained unbeaten in league play with a 4-1 victory over the Mascoutah Indians.
The hard-throwing right-hander and Eastern Illinois University recruit allowed only a one-out single to Mascoutah shortstop Alex Oltmann in the bottom of the third.
Highland (16-4) moved to 5-0 in the MVC while Mascoutah 13-7) dropped to 4-1.
Mascoutah junior Ryan Netemeyer (3-1) suffered his first loss, allowing six hits and four runs in 5 1/3 innings while striking out five.
While he struggled at times with control, walking four, Haberer has more than enough stuff to quiet the Mascoutah bats.
"He's probably the best pitcher we've seen so far out here," Mascoutah coach Don Eddy said. "He's got good velocity, he's able to change speeds and he's able to locate. He threw a very good game."
Mascoutah took a 1-0 lead in the third on Zach Lindsay's squeeze bunt that scored Oltmann, but Highland gained control with a three-run fourth inning.
Haberer's double ignited the rally and Zack Stieb and Tyler Zappia each had RBI singles in the inning. Grant Geppert also drove on a run with an RBI groundout to short.
It was tough to tell on Monday, but neither Haberer (3-0) nor the Highland coaching staff had been overly pleased with his pitching this season prior to this dominant outing.
"We've been so frustrated because we haven't pitched very well and Jake has been frustrated because he feels like he hasn't performed up to what he's capable of," Hawkins said. "Tonight it was nice to watch him do what he can do. Hopefully tonight was a step in the right direction."
Haberer also has been swinging a big ad and leads the Bulldogs with five homers and 29 RBIs to go along with hit .445 average.
Mascoutah hit only four battles out of the infield on three flyouts to center and Oltmann's base hit. That showed the dominance of Haberer, who took full advantage of his infield defense and wearing out the mitt of catcher Spencer Holzinger.
"I've had trouble getting people out fast," said Haberer, who chose EIU over Southern Illinois University Carbondale, SIU Edwardsville and several junior colleges. "I've been working deep in the counts instead of just going after the hitters. Tonight I got the first strike pitch over more easily that I usually do, so that was a plus."
It was a negative for the overmatched Mascoutah hitters.
"They got better at-bats than we did," Eddy said. "They did a little bit better job with two strikes than we did, fouling pitches off and keeping at-bats alive. Its something we've got to keep working on and getting better with.
"We've got to make some adjustments, especially with two strikes. They were a little peskier with two strikes"
Highland got its other run in the sixth when Stieb singled off Netemeyer and later scored on a wild pitch by Mascoutah reliever Tyler Greene.
Haberer walked two in the seventh, but retired Greene on a ground ball to third to secure the win.
"I liked the at-bats throughout the game," Hawkins said. "Some of them were strikeout at-bats, but you get to five, six, seven pitches and that's what you have to have against an arm like (Netemeyer) because he's terrific.
I really like that young man. I've seen him a bunch of times but tonight he was sharp."