The Highland High School baseball team’s 2-0 victory at Mascoutah on Saturday capped off a three-game winning streak in league play and allowed the Bulldogs to finish with an even 5-5 mark in the Mississippi Valley Conference play.
Over the past week, the Bulldogs (18-9-1) also beat MVC foes Triad, 5-0, on Monday, May 8 and Jerseyville, 5-1, on Wednesday, May 10. Overall, Highland enjoyed a 4-1 week with a 9-1 non-conference win at Waterloo Gibault on Tuesday, May 9, followed by a 10-2 loss at Teutopolis on Friday.
Highland drew the fifth seed in Sub-sectional A of the IHSA Class 3A Salem Sectional and will compete in the Triad Regional. The Bulldogs will open against No. 4 Freeburg at 4 p.m. Thursday, May 25 in the second semifinal. The first semifinal on Wednesday, May 24 pits top-seeded Mascoutah against the quarterfinal winner between No. 7 Triad and No. 8 Jerseyville.
The regional championship game at Triad is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 27.
Highland 2 Mascoutah 0
Junior Connor Pinsker (4-3) blanked the host Indians on five hits and no walks. The crafty lefty dipped his ERA to an outstanding 1.50 after only allowing 12 earned runs, 50 hits and nine walks in 56 innings this spring.
The pitching was strong on both sides as both teams could only muster five hits aside.
Junior shortstop Jacob Willis, junior right fielder Jonathan Dickman, junior second baseman Brock Troxell, senior left fielder Steven Diaz and junior third baseman Elliott Prott each had one hit for Highland.
The Bulldogs scratched across the only run they needed in the top of the first inning. Troxell laced a one-out single to left field and then came home to score on Willis’ two-out RBI single to center.
Highland finally pushed across the insurance run in the top of the seventh. Diaz led off with a single to right. Two outs later, Dickman drove Diaz home with a single to center.
Teutopolis 10 Highalnd 2
The Wooden Shoes outhit the Bulldogs 11-4. The Bulldogs also did not do themselves any favors with four errors.
Pinsker (2-for-2) and Willis each rapped out two hits to account for all of Highland’s hits in the game. Pinsker and Willis also each drove in a run with a single in HHS’ two-run third inning. Pinsker also scored one while Troxell also walked and scored the team’s other run.
Jake Ramsey had a rough start as he lasted only 2 2/3 innings but not before being blasted for eight runs (four earned) on eight hits and two walks.
Highland 5 Jerseyville 1
Payne Waldman twirled a gem and Pinsker spearheaded the offense to lead the Bulldogs to a season sweep of the Panthers.
The only run Waldman (4-1) surrendered was unearned and he only allowed four hits in his six innings en route to scoring his team-high fourth win and dipping his ERA to 1.19. He was crafty in being able to work around four walks.
Robert Sigman pitched a scoreless seventh to close out the game.
Pinsker and Diaz each collected two hits to account for four of Highland’s five hits in the game. Pinsker also doubled and drove home two.
Troxell had HHS’ only other hit.
The Bulldogs were beasts on the base paths with nine stolen bases, with Marti swiping four bases, Dickman adding two steals, and Pinsker, Diaz and Troxell each stealing one base.
With the score tied at 1-1, Pinsker’s third-inning single up the middle to score Marti (leadoff walk) and reclaim the lead for good for Highland.
The Bulldogs took control with a three-run fourth at-bat. Prott drew a leadoff walk and later scored on an error. Dickman walked, stole second and later stole home. The game’s final run scored on Pinsker’s double to drive in Marti, who reached on an error before going on to steal both second and third.
Highland 9 Gibault 1
The Bulldogs never trailed after outhitting the Hawks 11-4 and getting another strong pitching performance.
Troxell made the most of his only start of the season, giving he gave up only one unearned run and two hits in 4 2/3 innings, although he allowed four free passes, Troxell also struck out four.
Sigman and Marti provided solid relief as they combined to shut out Gibault over the final 2 1/3 innings.
At the dish, Diaz, Pinsker, Dickman and Willis each collected two hits. Diaz and Dylan Knebel each drove in a pair.
Pinsker also walked twice and scored twice while Colten Knebel reached base all four times on one hit and three walks, and Willis knocked in one.
With the game deadlocked at 1-1 in the top of the third, Willis gave HHS the lead for good with a two-out single to plate Troxell (walk).
Held held that narrow 2-1 lead until the fifth when Pinsker and Dylan Knebel each slugged a solo home run to nudge the lead to a three-run advantage.
The Bulldog then put the game away with a five-run sixth. Diaz had the big blow with a two-run single to right to score Pinsker (walk) and Dylan Knebel (walk).
Highland 5 Triad 0
Junior lefty Connor Pinsker baffled the Knights with a complete-game four-hit shutout in which he only gave out one free pass and struck out two.
Offensively, Highland doubled Triad in hits, 8-4. Sophomore shortstop Jacob Willis led the way after going 3-for-3 with one RBI. Junior right fielder Jonathan Dickman provided two hits (one double), one RBI and one run and junior second baseman Brock Troxell supplied one hit, two RBIs and one run.
Junior center fielder Garrett Marti (one RBI, one run) and junior third baseman Elliott Prott (one run) joined Troxell with one hit.
With Pinsker dealing, the Bulldogs pushed across the only two runs it really needed in the third. Prott led off with a single and Sigman followed by reaching on an error on Dylan Knebel’s sacrifice bunt. Dickman then sliced a double down the third-base line to score Prott before Sigman tagged up and scored on Marti’s sacrifice fly to center field.
Highland took complete command in the fifth, scoring three runs on four singles — including three in a row from Dickman, Marti and Troxell — and two stolen bases.
With one out, Dickman hit a single to left and then stole second before Marti singled and stole second himself. Troxell followed by slicing a two-run single to right to extend the lead to 4-0. After the second out, Troxell came around to score the game’s final run on a single to center by Willis.