Big hits, kicks and jumps
Mascoutah infielder Cole Gober had not collected an extra-base hit or a multi-hit game in a couple weeks.
On Wednesday at Highland High School, Gober got both and helped the Indians wrap up the Mississippi Valley Conference championship.
Gober went 4-for-4 including a 2-run double in the fifth inning and drove in four runs, while scoring another helping the Indians overcome a 2-0 deficit and beat Highland 9-2.
The outstanding performance was a relief for Gober, who had been struggling with offensive consistency.
“I’ve been doing a lot of practice and a lot of batting practice on the field, so that has helped out a lot,” Gober said.
Mascoutah (25-3, 9-1), winners of eight straight games, secured its first conference championship since 2014, and Indians coach Don Eddy is pleased with his club’s direction.
“I’m happy with them (the players), and they are happy with me and we’ve just got to keep working. The playoffs start next week, so we’re going to gear for these next three games and get ready for the postseason,” he said.
After two quiet innings, Highland (17-12, 5-5) pushed across two runs in the bottom of the third.
Chase Wilson and Kolby Frey both singled with two out and with runners at first and third, Ross Spies reached on an infield pop-up that dropped near the plate and the pitchers’ mound. Wilson and Frey scored off the Indians miscue for a 2-0 lead.
Mascoutah, however, went to work in the fourth. Gober singled home a run and then after Jeff Getchell singled to put runners at the corners, Ryan Norwood slapped an RBI hit to left, tying the score at 2-2.
Highland coach Joel Hawkins said he felt the game began to get away from the Bulldogs from the third inning on.
“I thought the key to the game was the third inning when they got the routine fly ball to right that fell in for a hit and then there was the play at first base that we didn’t make,” Hawkins said. “Those two plays back-to-back I thought really cost us because it made him (Frey) throw about 15 extra pitches. He threw a lot of extra pitches to finally get through that inning.”
In the fifth, Gober struck again. This time he ripped a 3-2 pitch with two outs from Highland reliever Tyler Werner for a two-run double, pushing the lead to 4-2.
“I was just looking for one (pitch) in the strike zone because I’ve been fouling some off all day and had been close all day too,” Gober said. “It felt really good since I hadn’t had one in a while so it was good to have a big game.”
The Indians salted the win with a four-run seventh, with Lane Hoelscher’s two-run double highlighting the rally.
“Cole did a great job with three hits, Lane in the nine-hole had at least two hits and drove in some runs, so any time you can start the inning with a couple of guys on base and get them in, that’s what we want to do,” Eddy said.
Winning pitcher Logan Moll was strong, firing five shutout innings, while striking out six and walking just one. Lefty reliever Ryan Norwood pitched two scoreless innings for the save.
“Logan Moll did a great job for us and Norwood threw a great last two innings for us,” Eddy said.
Highland, Mascoutah back in action
The Bulldogs will look to rebound at 4:15 p.m. today at home against Centralia on Senior Day.
“We haven’t swung the bats the way I thought we would, and hopefully we can get the swings ironed out in the next few days,” Hawkins said.
Mascoutah also is set to return to action today, visiting Salem at 4:30 p.m.