The Highland High School baseball team ran its winning streak to five games with a 10-3 lashing of the host Centralia Orphans last Thursday. But then, unfortunately, the Bulldogs’ streak turned the other direction, as HHS dropped its last four games of the regular season
First on Friday, Highland lost a 4-3 decision to visiting Chatham Glenwood. Next, on Saturday, the Bulldogs traveled to Mount Vernon and were swept by the Rams in a doubleheader by scores of 6-4 and 1-0. Finally, HHS hosted Freeburg on Memorial Day and fell to the Midgets 10-0 in five innings.
The end of the regular season for Highland (21-13) fell in line with the streaky nature of the team’s entire regular season.
After opening the season with nine victories in a row and winning 15 of their first 16 games, the Bulldogs dropped four in a row and eight of nine. Then Highland righted the ship to win five consecutive games, only to finish on a four-game skid.
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Freeburg 10, HHS 0
The game was virtually over in the first inning after the Midgets greeted two Highland pitchers rudely. Freeburg clubbed five doubles in a row to lead off the game en route to piling on seven runs in the first frame on six hits, one error, two wild pitches and one passed ball.
First, Freeburg knocked starter Griffin Welz out of the game without him having even recorded an out and being charged with four earned runs. He gave up five doubles The Midgets’ assault continued on reliever Jordan Smith, who was tagged for three additional runs.
To bring the game to an early conclusion, Freeburg tacked on two more runs in the third and one more in the fifth off Smith, who went four innings.
Matt Beyer gave up the final run in the fifth.
The Midgets finished with 14 hits.
Ty Dill led Freeburg with a perfect day at the plate after going 3-for-3 with one double, two runs knocked in and two runs scored.
Collecting two hits apiece for the Midgets were Landon Touchette (one double, two RBIs, one run), Demicke Rozycke (one double, one RBI, one run) and Austin Sweet.
Also for Freeburg, Keegan Baxmeyer added a double, two RBIs and one run and Ross Keleher had one double, one RBI and one run.
Highland was held off the scoreboard by two Freeburg hurlers, Will Hogan and Jon Wolf. Hogan scattered six hits and issued one free pass while striking out two in four innings to pick up the win while Wolf finished the game with a perfect fifth frame, punching out two.
Grant Geppert led HHS with two hits, while Smith, Will Greenwald and Tyler Kimmle each had one hit apiece.
Mount Vernon 6, HHS 4
The Bulldogs won the hit battle 11-7 on Saturday, but couldn’t push enough runs across late to get the triumph and avoid the sweep.
Highland led 3-0 after the top of the third and 4-2 after the top of the fourth, only to watch Mount Vernon counter with two in the bottom of the third and two more in the fourth to square the game at 4-4.
The Rams then clawed across a single tally in each of the fifth and sixth innings while holding the Bulldogs off the board over the final three frames to break out the brooms.
Highland’s defense did not do itself any favors with five errors, resulting in all five runs charged to losing starter Greene being unearned. Greene tossed the first five innings and allowed five hits and one walk while fanning two.
Beyer gave up one earned run in the sixth.
Cody Bentlage had a hot bat for the Bulldogs, going 3-for-4 and scoring two runs.
Chipping in two hits apiece for Highland were Smith, Geppert and Winning.
The Bulldogs jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Geppert singled with two outs and later scored on Smith’s RBI single.
Highland tacked on two more in the third on Smith’s RBI single to score Bentlage (single) and Mike McGill’s run-scoring walk to plate Geppert (hit by pitch).
The Bulldogs’ final tally came in the fourth on a bases-loaded walk to Greene to force home Bentlage (single).
Mount Vernon 1, HHS 0
Pete Baumgartner suffered the hard-luck defeat after striking out six batters and holding the Rams scoreless for 6
innings on five hits and three walks
But the Bulldogs provided no run support and that allowed the Rams to eventually steal the win with an unearned run on a walk-off single with two outs in the seventh.
Highland mustered just three hits in the entire seven-inning game, with one each coming from Greenwald, Andrew Winning and Sam Greene.
Chatham Glenwood 4, HHS 3
The Bulldogs jumped out to an early lead, but were unable to hold on and and lost by a single run.
In the seventh, left-handed pitcher Jimmie Smith committed an error on a bunt to put the go-ahead run in scoring position. He then threw a wild pitch to allow the eventual winning run to cross home plate.
Other than the big hiccup, Jimmie Smith was strong. He allowed no hits and no walks while whiffing two in two innings of work.
Geppert started the game and worked the first four innings, surrendering three earned runs on four hits and two walks. He struck out four received no decision with Smith getting the loss.
Highland held a 3-1 lead after the third, but Chatham battled back with a pair of runs in the fifth to pull even and set the stage for the unearned last-inning run.
Winning paced HHS with two hits, one RBI and one run scored.
The Bulldogs answered the Titans’ single run in the first with two of their own in the home half of the second on Matt Augustin’s RBI single to left field to score Winning (single) and Welz’s run-scoring single to center.
Highland increased its advantage to 3-1 on Winning’s RBI single to center to drive in Greenwald, who set up the run with a leadoff walk, advanced to second base on a sacrifice by Bentlage and went to third on a wild pitch.
HHS 10, Centralia 3
The Bulldogs banged out 12 hits to double up the Orphans in that department.
Welz racked up four hits and three RBIs for Highland after going a perfect 4-for-4. He also contributed one double and crossed home plate twice.
In addition, Greene and Bentlage each rapped out two hits and Jimmie Smith hammered a home run.
After Smith was hit by a pitch to lead off the second, moved to second on a sacrifice from Augustin, advanced to third on an error and scored on a wild pitch to open the scoring, Highland scored three times in the third.
The game was never in doubt after the third, as the Bulldogs scored their three runs on a two-run homer to right by Jimmie Smith and an RBI single by Welz.
HHS also brought home three runs in each of the fifth and seventh innings.
In the fifth, Highland scored on an RBI single by Welz to score Chris Dickman, and got one on a wild pitch and another off a throw.
Thee Bulldogs produced three more runs in the seventh on a run-scoring double by Welz, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly from Kimmle.