The Highland baseball Bulldogs had an extremely busy week as they went 5-1 in five days.
First, on April 16, Highland traveled to Mascoutah. On a cold and windy day, HHS swung hot bats to hammer the previously unbeaten Indians 7-1.
Next, on April 18, the Bulldogs did not let another cold and windy day slow their roll as they outlasted the visiting Civic Memorial Eagles 6-5 in nine innings.
Twenty four hours later, Highland took down the visiting Greenville Comets with a 7-4 come-from-behind victory.
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Then on Friday, the Bulldogs traveled to Alton and flew by the Redbirds 11-1 in six innings.
Finally, on Saturday, Highland played two at Glik Park. After suffering a 3-1 setback to Belleville East, the Bulldogs bounced back to maul the Carbondale Terriers 16-3 in five innings.
The two Mississippi Valley Conference wins over Mascoutah and CM gave the Bulldogs, 11-3 overall, a flawless 4-0 start in league play.
Senior Colten Knebel is on a tear. His batting average is one of the best in the St. Louis area at .588. He also has three home runs, 21 runs batted in, and 11 runs scored.
Highland 16, Carbondale 3 (5 innings)
The Bulldogs needed only four at-bats to hammer the Terriers and bring the game to an end after only 4 1/2 innings. Highland amassed six runs both the first and third innings, added one run in the second, and three runs in the fourth.
Sixteen different players had at least one plate appearance, and nine of them got at least one hit.
Highland finished with 12 hits and seven walks.
Contributing two hits apiece were junior Jacob Willis and seniors Colten Knebel and Luke Landmann. Willis also doubled and drove in three runs, while Knebel doubled, tripled, knocked in a pair of runs and scored three times. Landmann also scored twice and added one RBI.
Junior Ross Spies added one hit and three RBIs, and junior Riley Field had one hit and two RBIs.
Also adding one hit each for Highland were senior Connor Pinsker (double, one RBI, one run), senior Elliott Prott (two walks, two runs), senior Michael Riffel (two walks, two runs), and senior Brock Troxell (one RBI, one run).
Willis was the winning pitcher after working the first three innings and allowing two earned runs, two hits and two hits while striking out four.
Field pitched a perfect fourth inning, and junior Bailey Trame gave up one earned run, one hit and one walk with two strikeouts in the fifth inning.
Belleville East 3, Highland 1
The Bulldogs, who outhit the Lancers 9-7, scored their only run in the first inning and then went silent and ended up leaving seven runners on base. Belleville East scored all three of its runs in the second inning, and pitcher Sam McAulty made it hold up.
In the bottom of the first inning, Troxell bunted for a hit, advanced to second base on Pinsker's sacrifice bunt, stole third, and scored on a wild pitch.
The Lancers scored three unearned runs off Highland senior starter Dustin Phelps due to a costly error. East pulled even on a wild pitch by Phelps and then took the lead for good off back-to-bakc RBI singles from Zechariah Georgian and Drew Gray.
Troxell and Knebel led the Bulldogs with two hits each. Knebel also had Highland's extra-base hit with a double.
Phelps was the losing pitcher. Junior Michael Barth pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings, surrendering just one hit.
Senior left-handed reliever Robert Sigman threw a 1 2/3 innings of scoreless ball, working around three hits with the help of three strikeouts. He lowered his season ERA to 0.60.
Highland 11, Alton 1 (6 innings)
After a scoreless first frame, the Bulldogs scored in five straight innings, including putting up a crooked number in the second (two), fourth (three) and fifth (fourth) frames.
Junior Griffin Frahm went the distance and yielded just one unearned run, three hits and four walks with two strikeouts to stay perfect at 3-0 and drop his ERA to 0.53.
Prott was the game's top hitter after going 3-for-3 with a home run, three RBIs and two runs scored.
Knebel also supplied one hit, one walk, two RBIs and three runs.
Also providing one hit each for the Bulldogs were senior Dylan Knebel (double, one run), senior Jonathan Dickman (one RBI, Landmann (one run), senior Garrett Marti (double, one run) and Spies (double, one RBI).
Highland 7, Greenville 4
The Comets broke up a scoreless game with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth, only to be forced to have to watch the Bulldogs race by them with a five-run bottom half.
Highland tacked on two more in the home half of the sixth to have plenty of insurance to be able to withstand Greenville's game-ending two-run seventh.
After the Bulldogs pushed across the first two runs to tie the game, Prott delivered the big blow with the bases loaded in his only at-bat of the game. On the very first pitch, Prott ripped a bases-clearing double to center to put Highland ahead for good at 5-2.
Pinsker had a game-best two hits, including a double, one walk and two runs scored.
Colten Knebel reached base all three times on a single and two walks.
Also for the Bulldogs, Troxell added one hit, one walk, one stolen base and two runs and Willis had one hit, one walk and one run. Marti chipped in a pair of RBIs, and Dickman had one RBI.
Sigman tossed a perfect 1 2/3 innings with one strikeout to improve to 3-1.
Highland 6, Civic Memorial 5 (9 innings)
Exactly one week after outlasting Waterloo 6-5 in 11 innings with a walk-off hit with the bases loaded and out at GlikPark, the Highland Bulldogs performed an encore performance by winning by the same score on another walk-off hit with the bases loaded and one out in extra innings.
And while Willis was the hero a week earlier, this time Dickman was the star.
After Marti led off the ninth inning with a single, Willis singled with one out, and Sigman reached on an error. Dickman then slapped a single to left field to left field on a 1-0 count to chase Marti home with the walk-off winning run.
The hit made a winner out of Sigman, who pitched a perfect final 1 2/3 innings, striking out three.
Dickman's game winner made a loser out of Eagle reliever Keaton Loewen, who gave up the one earned run, two hits and one walk while striking out two in 1 1/3 innings
The game had been tied at 5-5 since the sixth inning when Pinsker's one-out, two-run double to center scored Dickman (leadoff walk) and Herman (hit by pitch).
Pinsker and Colten Knebel led the Bulldogs with two hits apiece. Pinsker also doubled, walked and knocked in a game-best three runs.
Knebel and Herman joined Dickman each with one RBI. Herman, Willis and Prott each had one hit for Highland.
Highland won the game despite being out 14-8.
Will Buhs and Bryce Zupan showed the way for the Eagles offensively after they both went 3-for-5. Caden Clark, Zach Vaughn and Nick Walker all collected two hits apiece for CM.
After Highland starter Payne Waldman forced the Eagles to strand the bases loaded in the first, the Bulldogs got a single run in the bottom half to open the scoring on Colten Knebel's RBI single to center to plate his twin brother, Dylan (hit by pitch).
CM took its first lead with a three-run top of the second, with the big hit a two-run single by Zupan.
Highland tied it up with a two-run fourth. Herman's hit a one-out run-scoring single to drive home Colten Knebel (double) and Pinsker later drew a bases-loaded walk.
CM broke up the 3-3 tie in the fifth on a run-scoring single by a Buhs and a sacrifice fly by Loewen.
Waldman struck out seven but only lasted three innings after giving up three earned runs, six hits and two walks.
Prott also allowed a lot of men on base, but managed to minimize the damage after yielding just two earned runs on nine hits and two walks with four strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings.
Highland 7, Mascoutah 1
The game seemed like a daunting task as the Indians entered the game with a perfect 13-0 record and their ace, Logan Moll, was 5-0 with a 0.41 ERA. However, the Bulldogs had no problems with Moll or Mascoutah's bats.
Highland damaged Moll for four runs (three earned) on three hits and four walks with no strikeouts. Indian reliever Cole Gober fared no better as he was charged with three earned runs on three hits and four bases on balls in 2 2/3 innings.
In contrast, Pinsker had his A-game as he scattered six hits and was touched for just one earned run in six frames. Pinsker (2-0) punched out six and walked two.
Prott threw a scoreless seventh, allowing only one walk while striking out a pair.
Highland, which got three doubles from Marti, never trailed and grabbed a quick 1-0 advantage in the top of the first on Dylan Knebel's sacrifice fly.
After Mascoutah tied the game in the bottom of the second after back-to-back two-out hits on a double by Cole Gober and a RBI single from Tyler Jowett.
The Bulldogs took charge with a three-run third at-bat. Marti walloped an RBI double to center to score Troxell (double), and Colten Knebel followed by changing places with Marti after slicing a two-run double to right to also plate Dylan Knebel (walk) to make it 4-1 in Highland's favor.
In the top of the fifth, Marti pulled a one-out double to left, and Willis sliced a single to right to knock in Marti fo r 5-1 lead.
Highland capped off the rout with a two-run sixth on Marti's third two-bagger of the game to drive in Pinsker and Colten Knebel, who both walked..