The Highland High School baseball team had a rough week by going 1-4 after the Bulldogs suffered their longest losing streak of the season at four games.
First, on Monday, April 30, Highland traveled to Waterloo and roughed up the host squad 15-7 to stay atop the Mississippi Valley Conference standings at 6-1.
But on Wednesday, May 2, the Bulldogs hosted Mascoutah in a game that would most likely go a long way in helping decide the MVC champion. After a tug-of-war like regulation seven innings, the Indians used a six-run eighth inning to pull away for a 13-7 victory and take control of their own destiny in their quest for the conference crown.
Mascoutah (21-4) improved to 7-1 in the league while Highland slipped to 6-2.
Highland went on to go 0-3 at the Edwardsville Tiger Classic. On Friday, the Bulldogs dropped a 1-0 decision to Chatham Glenwood. That was followed by a pair of defeats on Saturday with an 11-0 shellacking by host Edwardsville and a 3-2 setback to Lockport.
Highland (16-9) traveled to Civic Memorial on Monday.
Lockport 3, Highland 2
The Bulldogs outhit Lockport 7-4, but it was the Porters who prevailed with Alex Martinez's RBI sacrifice fly in the top of the sixth inning proving to be the difference.
Highland senior Jonathan Dickman was the game's best hitter after going 3-for-4, while fellow senior Connor Pinsker produced a game-best two RBIs.
Lockport grabbed a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning on RBI single by Jon Weis — who led the Porters with two hits — and a run-scoring ground out by Josh Bentley.
The Bulldogs chopped the deficit in half in the bottom of the first after Dickman singled with one out before stealing second base and advancing to third on a wild pitch. Dickman then scored on a ground out by Pinsker.
Highland pulled even in the home half of the fifth on Pinkser's run-scoring single.
Highland senior left-handed reliever Robert Sigman (3-3) was charged with the loss after giving up the one run without surrendering a hit. He worked 2 2/3 innings with one walk and one strikeout.
Zach Pytlewski earned the win for the Titans after blanking the Bulldogs on four hits with five strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings.
Jack Vrba tossed the final 2 2/3 innings and gave up just three hits with two strikeouts.
Also for Glenwood, Jack Mladic had a double.
Edwardsville 11, Highland 0 (5 innings)
The Tigers outhit the Bulldogs 10-2 and put the game early on after putting up a crooked number in each of their first four at-bats and did not even need a fifth one. Edwardsville followed up a four-run first with two runs in each of the second and third innings and three-spot in the fourth.
Junior Jacob Willis and senior Evan Herman accounted for Highland's two hits, while Pinsker coaxed two walks for the Bulldogs.
Senior starter Austin Habermehl took the loss after allowing seven runs (three earned) on six hits and two walks.
For Edwardsville, Blake Burris, Dalton Wallace and Drake Westcott each had two hits. Burris also supplied two RBIs and two runs scored, while Wallace belted a home run and knocked in a pair and Jonathan Yancik had two RBIs.
Matthew Boyer and Collin Salter combined for the shutout, with Boyer going the first six frames and punching out six and Salter throwing the final inning.
Chatham Glenwood 1, Highland 0
In what was a pitcher's duel with hits and runs at a premium, both teams combined for just five hits, with the Bulldogs holding the slight 3-2 edge.
The game's lone run came in the third inning on an RBI double from Todd Fowler.
On the bump for the Titans, Gavin Wahlbrink muzzled the Bulldogs to just three hits and one walk while striking out three.
Junior lefty Payne Waldmann was also sharp for Highland after yielding only one earned run, two hits and three bases on balls.
Recording one hit each for the Bulldogs were Pinsker, senior Colten Knebel and Prott, who also drew Highland's only walk.
Mascoutah 13, Highland 7 (8 innings)
With supremacy in the MVC on the line, the game was an exciting see-saw affair with both teams leading on several occasions and the game tied a few times as well, including through regulation. But the Indians blew the game open with a six-run top of the eighth to take control of their own destiny. in terms of the MVC title.
Mascoutah, which outhit Highland 13-10, improved to 6-1 in the league, while the Bulldogs slipped to 6-2. The two MVC rivals split the two conference games this season.
The Indians pounded out four hits, three of them doubles, and drew two walks off Sigman (3-2) before Michael Barth came in to relieve him and allowed a walk and two wild pitches.
Contributing two hits each were Colten Knebel (home run, double, two RBIs and one run), Pinsker (one walk, two runs, one RBI) and Marti (one triple, one run).
Knebel walloped a solo home run over the 365-foot fence in left field to tie the game at 3-3 in the third inning. It was his team-leading fourth homer of the season. Later on, in the home half of the seventh, Knebel doubled the opposite way to right to drive home Pinsker to send the game into extra play deadlocked at 7-7.
Chipping in one hit each for the Bulldogs were Dylan Knebel (one RBI, one run), Willis (one RBI, one run), Dickman (double, one RBI) and Sigman (one run).
Dickman's double in the sixth to score Sigman gave Highland a 6-5 lead in the sixth before Mascoutah countered with a pair of runs in the top of the seventh.
Highland 15, Waterloo 7
Waterloo struck first with a two-run bottom of the first, but it was Highland the rest of the way. HHS took complete control with five-runs in its ensuing at-bat in the top of the second which started a flourish that saw HHS pile on 15 runs over a five-inning span. Highland then followed that up with three more in the third, one in the fourth, and three in each of the fifth and sixth frames.
Both pitching staffs had their hands full, frequently dealing with runners on base, especially Waterloo's pitchers after Highland finished with 15 hits (six doubles) and eight walks.
Marti, Dylan Knebel and Willis all recorded multiple-hit games. Marti rocked the bats with four hits while Knebel and Willis each had three hits. Marti also clubbed a double, three RBIs and two runs scored. Two of Knebel's hits were doubles, and he also drove in two and scored three times. Willis added a double, one walk, two runs and one RBI.
Getting one apiece for Highland were Colten Knebel (two RBIs, two runs), Dickman (one double, two RBIs, one run), Troxell (one double, two walks, two runs, one RBI), Sigman (one walk, two runs, one RBI) and Prott (one walk, one RBI).
Pinsker was on the mound for Highland Bulldogs Varsity. He allowed six hits, four walks and four earned runs with two strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings.
Dustin Phelps pitched the final 2 1/3 innings. He gave up three unearned runs, two hits and two walks while striking out five.