One night after struggling to get the timely hit in a 4-1 road loss to the Edwardsville Bears, the Highland Senior Legion Post 439 baseball team came out swinging in an 8-3 home victory over the visiting Freeburg Post 550/ Smithton Post 937 76ers Wednesday, June 21 at Glik Park.
Highland, which outhit Freeburg/Smithton 11-4, took charge early with a four-run first inning and never looked back. Post earned its first District 22 to improve to 1-3 while evening its overall record at 7-7.
The Edwardsville Bears are currently 16-5 overall and 4-2 in District 22 action. Belleville, 16-3 overall, leads District 22 with a perfect 5-0.
“Boy we needed that to get some confidence and get going,” Highland coach Harry Painter said. “We got that first district win and that’s a big help for us. Last night we didn’t get the timely hits. Tonight we put ourselves in a position to do some things, but we wanted to win this game no matter what.”
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Jordan Smith, Steven Diaz and Sam Greene shared game-high honors with two hits apiece. Smith and Diaz also each drove in two runs while Smith also scored two runs and Greene knocked in one and scored one.
In addition, Jimmie Smith and Garrett Marti each added one hit and one RBI. Jimmie Smith also scored one run.
Jake Ramsey got the win but had to work hard to do so. He needed 92 pitches to get through a stressful five innings in which he walked seven and allowed four hits and three runs (two earned) with three strikeouts.
Freeburg/Smithton left 10 runners on base.
Left-hander Robert Sigman threw a scoreless sixth inning with one walk and one strikeout and Marti finished the game with a scoreless seventh on two strikeouts and one walk.
A big factor in the win the was quick-strike offense which pushed across four in the first and two more in the second to take command at 6-1. After the 76ers got one run back in the top of the fourth, Post 439 put the game away with a two-run bottom half to go on top 8-2. Freeburg/Smithton got the game’s final tally in the fifth.
In the first, Will Greenwald drew a leadoff walk, stole second base, advanced to third on the pitcher’s error and scored on Jimmie Smith’s single to right field.
After the first out and Jordan Smith singled to left, Diaz pulled a single to right to score both Jimmie Smith and Jordan Smith to make it 3-0.
Marti then chased home Diaz with a double to center and Highland had staked Ramsey to a cozy 4-0 lead.
But Post 439 was not done there. After the 76ers got a run in the top of the second, Highland answered with a two-run home half.
Jordan Smith smacked a two-out two-run single to left to plate Braden Rehkemper (single) and Dillon Hallemann (double).
Highland was gifted with two runs in the fourth on a walk, two hit batters and an error. Greene supplied the only hit in the at-bat with a run-scoring single to left.
“It was big to get Jake a lead and give him some confidence out there,” Painter said. “And then Robert came in and gave us a good inning and then Garrett closed it out for us. And we had good defense. So, our defense is coming around and our hitting is starting to catch up. Our pitching is doing what it has been doing all year, and I think now that all three are starting to come together, we’re getting there.”
The only negative in the game for Post 439 was having four runners caught stealing.
Edwardsville 4, Highland 1
The Bears swept Post 439 on the strength of starter Andrew Frank, who shook off the rust of his first start in a month to go the distance. He surrendered just an unearned run on five hits on Tuesday, June 20 at SIUE’s Roy E. Lee Field.
It was Highland’s second loss in a week to Edwardsville, which won 8-3 five days earlier in Highland.
Frank went 4-0 with a 1.72 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 36.2 innings during the high school season, but he was making his first start since May 19 against Triad.
Since that start, Frank had made just two appearances and threw a total of 2 1/3 innings.
It took Frank a couple innings to get settled in on the mound as he permitted two hits, one walk and hit two batters in the first two innings.
But from the third inning on, Frank was hammering the strike zone.
Highland mustered just three hits over the last five innings. Frank struck out eight for the game.
What also helped was the double play ball. Shortstop Kade Burns and second baseman Joel Quirin turned a pair of double plays.
The Edwardsville offense was able to give Frank some run support in the third inning.
After Highland’s Elliott Prott retired the Bears in order in the first two innings, Burns led off the third with a walk.
After a couple fielder’s choices put Konnar Loewen at first with two outs, Corey Price launched a long fly ball into right. It hopped off the turf and over the wall, keeping Loewen from scoring.
Cole Hansel made sure the ground-rule double didn’t come back to haunt the Bears as he lined the first pitch to right for a two-run single.
Highland took advantage of an error and a RBI single from Greene in the top of the sixth to score its lone run and cut Edwardsville’s lead in half.
However, the Bears responded right back with two runs in the bottom of the sixth.
With one out, Steven Pattan fought off a couple pitches before hitting a sacrifice fly into right to chase Prott. Kade Burns followed with an RBI base hit up the middle off reliever Marti for the three-run lead.
Prott took the loss for Highland. He allowed four earned runs on four hits with three walks and five strikeouts in five innings.
In addition to Greene, Post 439 got a single each from Jordan Smith, Diaz, Greenwald and Sigman.