Thursday was a strange day — a good day, but a strange one — for Highland' senior Legion baseball team.
Highland traveled to Valmeyer for a doubleheader, which there is nothing unusual about. But needing to play only eight-plus innings to get two wins — one a walk-off and the other a no-hitter — could be described as atypical. That's what happened, though.
"There's a lot of weird stuff happening this year," said Highland Post 439 coach Harry Painter.
Also somewhat out of the ordinary, the first tilt was actually a resumed game that had been postponed due to rain on June 25, so it was started in the fifth inning. And, though Highland was on the road, it was the home team for the restart.
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Before Mother Nature halted play the week prior, both teams were scoreless. However, though neither team had plated a runner, Highland had not even managed at hit by the time the game was called. But Post 439 ended up with walk-off win.
When play resumed Thursday, the Post 439's hittless rut continued until the sixth.
"Dylan Apken broke it up with a bloop single," Painter said.
The hit was the only one for Highland in the inning. And, though Apken neither knocked in a run or ended up scoring himself, his base hit helped spark a two-run rally that would tie the game.
Valmeyer had scored twice in the top part of the inning.
In Highland's half, Ross Spies led off with a walk. Apken's single then put runners at first and second.
Brock Troxell then hit into a fielder's choice where Apken was forced a second, putting runners at the corners. Troxell then stole second and Steven Diaz walked to load the bases.
Spies was put out at home on a fielder's choice off the bat of Garrett Marti, but the bases were still loaded. Back-to-back walks to Blake Wellen and Conner Pinsker then pushed Troxell and Diaz across to tie the game.
In the bottom of the seventh, Johanthan Dickman led off by reaching on an error by the shortstop. He moved to second on a ground out to third by Apken, then raced homed with the winning run on a single to center by Troxell.
"Brock Troxell just laced a line drive to walk it off," Painter said. "They tried to throw (Dickman) out at the plate, but they dropped the ball. We were being no-hit, and we ended up with a walk-off win."
Highland managed just the two hits by Apken and Troxell, but superb pitching by Post 439 carried the day in the 3-2 victory.
Elliot Prott was credited with a complete game win, though he had a 10-day, mid-game rest. He gave up two runs, both earned, in seven innings of work. He allowed seven hits and one walk. He struck out nine.
Highland 8, Valmeyer 0
Lights-out pitching has not been a stranger to Highland this year, and the second game of the twin bill Thursday with Valmeyer would be more of the same. Pinsker threw his second no-hitter of the season.
"He faced only 15 batters. He did walk one, but we turned a double play, so he faced the minimum," Painter said.
The game was shortened to only five innings but still counted as a no-hitter, the third thrown by Post 439 pitching this summer. (All have come in abbreviated games.)
Highland, the visiting team in the second game, banged out 10 hits. Marti (triple), Dickman (double), Pinsker and Apken each had two hits for Highland.
Troxell and Prott accounted for the other two Highland hits.
Prott and Dickman also had two RBI each.
Highland 12, Harrisburg 1
Highland posted a 12-1, five-inning victory over the Harrisburg Warriors on Friday.
Highland had 11 hits. Pinsker was the top hitter, going 3-for-4 with a double, a triple, three runs scored and two RBI. Marti also had a two-hit day, including a double, a run and RBI. Apken had two singles in three at-bats and scored twice.
Dickman started the game on the bump for Highland and earned the win, tossing four innings. He gave up one earned run on three hits. He walked two and struck out four.
Riley Fields also pitched a scoreless frame for Highland.
Highland 8, New Athens 1
Highland collected 10 hits in an 8-1 thumping of New Athens on Saturday.
Highland also had another game of spectacular pitching. Luke Carlson started for Post 439. He went five scoreless innings to earn the win, striking out nine. He gave up only two hits, but did walk five. Dustin Phelps finished the last two innings to earn the save.
Dickman led Highland's offense with two doubles, two runs and two RBI. Dylan Knebel also had two doubles in three at-bats.
Troxell and Wellen also had two-hit days for Highland, each collecting a pair of singles.
Highland 13, East St. Louis 0
Diaz threw a complete game one-hitter in the first game of a doubleheader Monday with East St. Louis at Glik Park. He shut out East Side in five innings of work. He walked only one and struck out 10 to earn the win.
On offense, Highland had eight hits and drew six walks. Diaz had three of Highland's hits, all singles. He also knocked in three runs. Spies was 2-for-2 with a triple. Pinsker also had a triple. Dylan Knebel and Wellen each had a double.
Highland 21, East St. Louis 1
In the nightcap, Highland's offense exploded. The loudest boom was in the second inning, when Highland scored 11 runs to put the game out of reach early.
Troxell and Spies (double) both had three hits. Troxell also drove in three, while Spies had two RBI.
Colten Knebel (two doubles, four RBI), Wellen (double, two RBI) and Dickman had two hits each for Post 439.
Marti had a double in three at bats, scored four times, had two RBI and walked twice.
The game was shortened to four innings. Troxell pitched all four. The one run he gave up was earned. He allowed three hits, but walked no one. He struck out seven to earn the win.