Big hits, kicks and jumps
Highland’s Chase Wilson just wanted to record a hit and help his team get the lead again.
In the fifth inning Monday against Breese Central, the Bulldogs junior outfielder had his chance as he came up in the bottom of the fifth with one out.
He made it count.
Wilson slapped a 1-1 pitch from Central reliever Easton Rakers through the right side of the infield for a hit, scoring Landon Oestringer to break a 2-2 tie.
The fifth-seeded Bulldogs added an insurance run in the sixth on a Ryan Hacke groundout and closer Kolby Frey finished up in relief as Highland defeated the third-seeded Cougars 4-2 in an IHSA Class 3A regional play-in game at Highland High School.
Highland (21-13) will face Triad in the regional semifinals at 4:15 p.m. Thursday at Triad High School.
Helping his team advance was a great feeling for Wilson.
“It felt pretty good to (get the hit), and I felt like it gave us a lot of momentum the rest of the game,” Wilson said.
Highland had to play more small-ball as Breese Central starter Max Kampwerth and Bulldogs starter Payne Waldman did not allow any big innings early.
The teams were tied at 1-1 after three innings.
In the fourth, HHS regained the lead 2-1 as Carter Wiegman led off with a single to right and came home with one out on a sacrifice fly to deep left field by Kyle Schlater.
“We had the fly ball in play and Carter Wiegman scored, then Chase had the big hit to make it 3-2 and then that last inning (the sixth) Ryan Hacke put the ball in play and that’s all we did and all we could do,” said Highland coach Joel Hawkins, whose team previously beat the Cougars on March 25.
Breese Central (10-21) responded promptly in the top of the fifth as Cal Rakers waked with one out and, after Drew Rakers popped out, Cameron Wempe ripped an RBI single to left to tie the score 2-2.
That chased Waldman. Frey came on and, after walking Marshall Smith, stopped the Cougars rally, striking out Kyle Athmer.
“I don’t really care if there are people on, I just work the batter,” Frey said. “I don’t worry about the people (on base).”
In the bottom of the fifth, Landon Oestringer led off with a walk and came home on Wilson’s one-out single to right.
“I was just looking for a fastball I could take somewhere and get a nice hit,” Wilson said. “It was something to get the team going.”
Jack Korte opened the sixth with a double and scored on Hacke’s run-scoring groundout to second, making it 4-2.
Frey then pitched a scoreless seventh to finish off 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief for the win.
Frey believes the team is in a good spot as they ready to face Triad.
“I feel great about the team,” Frey said. “I feel like we’re moving in the right direction, not making many errors in the field and putting the ball in play a lot more than the beginning of the season. I think we’ll make it pretty far.”