Highland continued its late-season surge on into the postseason with a 6-2 victory over Freeburg on Thursday in the semifinal of the Class 3A Triad Regional.
Left-hander Connor Pinsker kept up his stretch of strong starts while Elliott Prott belted a two-run double in the fourth inning and Dylan Knebel slugged a two-run home run in the sixth to help the Bulldogs (24-9-1) reel off their seventh victory in a row and 10th win in their last 11 games.
“Everything has been rolling for us and we’re really excited about what we can do. Everybody’s hitting, playing great defense and it’s been really fun,” Pinsker said.
Pinsker (6-3) baffled the Midgets for five innings on one hit and one walk. He then gave up a run in each of the last two innings, but not before Highland had already rolled to a comfortable 6-0 lead.
Pinsker’s roll in the second half of the season mirrors that of his team as he has posted four wins in a row and has earned a victory in six of his past seven outings.
Freeburg starter Jordan Fritz was effective with a heavy diet of fastballs through three innings, but ran into trouble in the fourth.
After Highland’s Brock Troxell drew a leadoff walk, Pinsker laid down a sacrifice that was booted for an error and Jacob Willis bunted for a single to load the bases. Knebel then grounded into a RBI fielder’s choice that forced out Pinsker going to third but scored Troxell.
Prott then delivered a big blow, hammering a double to center to drive in Willis and Knebel to make it 3-0.
Highland put up another three-spot in the sixth.
Knebel, who came close to yanking one out to left in his first at-bat to lead off the second, crushed a no-doubter over the fence in left for his third homer of the season to bust the game open at 5-0.
While Freeburg’s season ends at 25-9, Highland will take on Mississippi Valley Conference rival Mascoutah for the regional championship on Saturday. Game time has been moved back to 3 p.m. because Mascoutah has graduation at 10 a.m. The two conference combatants split their two meetings during the regular season.