Big hits, kicks and jumps
Carter Wiegman’s bat came up big early, and Payne Waldman’s left arm took care of business on the mound for the Highland Bulldogs on Wednesday afternoon.
Wiegman ripped a two-run double to key a three-run first inning and Waldman shut down rival Triad for six innings as the host Bulldogs blanked their archrivals 3-0 in Mississippi Valley Conference action.
Highland, which sat at 9-9 on April 29, is now 15-11 overall and 5-4 in the MVC. The Bulldogs have gained some late season traction and appear to be peaking as the postseason looms.
“We’ve been taking a lot better at bats these last four games that we’ve won and we’ve just had a better attitude in the dugout too,” Wiegman said. “Everybody is working together and everybody is contributing to the team.”
Wiegman was instrumental in that better attitude against Triad, delivering what would be the game-winning hit in the bottom of the first inning.
Landon Oestringer walked with one and then Kolby Frey followed with a free pass, bringing up Wiegman.
On a 2-0 count, Wiegman ripped a Drew Parres pitch into the right field corner for a double, chasing home Oestringer and Frey for a 2-0 lead.
“I think it (the hit) was a pretty good way to set the mood for the rest of the game (even) though we didn’t have many hits the rest of the game,” Wiegman said. “It set the tone for the rest of the game.”
Spies and Jack Korte walked to load the bases, and Chase Wilson’s groundout scored Spies to make it 3-0.
“Carter got the big hit and Chase put the ball in play and that’s all you can ask and we were lucky to get that run,” Highland coach Joel Hawkins said. “We did that tonight in the one inning and it was just enough. So, hopefully we can do that for a bunch of innings in the days ahead.”
The Bulldogs only had one hit thereafter, as Parres settled in and yielded just a fifth inning single to Highland catcher Austin Toler.
It mattered little to Waldman as the HHS lefty started strong and was solid throughout his six innings. He surrendered only four hits and pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the fifth for his second win in the past two weeks.
“I really got my off-speed (pitch) working better today and I extended my fastball into different locations on the inside and outside of the plate and worked in my slider a lot,” Waldman said. “I learned that from the Mascoutah (game) that you have to get ahead (in the count) or bad things will happen to you as a pitcher.”
Kolby Frey relieved Waldman in the seventh and closed out the game for the save.
Hawkins noted Waldman’s improved pitching along with better defense have been big factors in the Bulldogs recent surge.
“Payne has really done a great job the last three outings and Kolby Frey did a great job coming in and mopping up,” Hawkins said. “We’ve seen a lot better pitching and a lot better defense from our team.”
Highland is schedule to resume action at 4:15 p.m. Friday when it hosts Alton.