The Highland American Legion Post 439 Senior baseball team ended a two-game slide in a big way after pounding out 15 hits, including four for extra bases, and scoring early and often en route to routing the host Trenton Post 778 Gators 12-2 in five innings (due to the 10-run mercy rule) Wednesday night at Trenton City Park.
Highland piled on four runs in each of the first two innings, followed by a single tally in the third and a three-spot in the fourth to bring the game to an early conclusion.
The win evened Highland’s record at 2-2 and was encouraging for coach Harry Painter heading into this weekend’s Greenville College Tournament.
“It was a good change of pace and a good game for us,” Painter said. “It was a good atmosphere and the guys had good energy. The spirit of the team was good and the guys came ready to play. We hit the ball real well and also pitched real well.”
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Blaine Ray and Andrew Winning led the hits brigade for Post 439 after matching one another with three hits and a double each, while Griffin Welz and Cody Bentlage chipped in two hits and one walk apiece.
Austin Gusewelle knocked in a game-high three runs to raise his team-leading RBI total to 10 in four games.
Also for Highland at the plate, Bentlage doubled, drove in two and scored two, Jordan Smith added a hit and two RBI, and Dillon Hallemann tripled and scored twice.
Montana Gilbert got the start on the bump and earned the victory after going the first four innings and yielding two earned runs and five hits. He whiffed four.
Jake Ramsey came on to pitch the fifth and made short work of Trenton by striking out the side to close the decisive victory.
Post 439 wasted no time busting out the offensive assault with a four-run first frame that was the result of four hits, two walks and one error. Collecting the hits were Smith, Winning, Welz and Matt Augustin. Bentlage and Hallemann drew the walks and both ultimately came around to score.
Highland turned right around in the second and lit up the scoreboard for another four-run at-bat, this time on five hits and a sacrifice fly. Ray started the spurt with a single and Bentlage followed it up with a double to chase him home. Hallemann then plated Bentlage with a triple to precede an RBI single from Smith and a single from Winning. Welz capped off the rally with a sacrifice fly to allow Smith to tag and score the team’s eighth run in two innings.
In the third, Gusewelle cracked an RBI single to score Ray (single).
Post 439 closed out the the lopsided win with a three-run fourth. Welz ignited it with a leadoff triple and scored on Augustin’s ground out to second. After Chris Dickman walked and Ray doubled, Dickman came around to score on an RBI single by Bentlage and Ray crossed home plate with the game’s final run on an RBI ground ball by Gusewelle that was booted for an error by the Gators defense.