SPARTA — The Highland High School baseball team’s bats awoke in a seven-run fourth inning, helping it defeat visiting Fredericktown, 14-5, in the nightcap of a Saturday doubleheader. The Freddies held off the Scots, 11-7, in the opener to gain a split.
Third baseman Austin Hoeflich led the Freddies, driving in four runs with a pair of key hits in the first game.
“I thought we played very well (in Game 1),” said Fredericktown coach Matt Smith. “I thought we had a real solid approach at the plate one through nine. Unfortunately, we didn’t see that in the second game.”
It wasn’t just Game 1 offense that the Freddies shined. The Freddies only made a single error in the entire twin bill.
“We turned two or three double plays,” said Smith. “That certainly helps your pitcher. It limits his pitches and keeps him going.
Game 1 winning pitcher Nate Chilcote (2-0) was touched up for four Highland runs in the second, including a three-run homer by second baseman Jake Weaver to make it 3-1. Scots’ centerfielder Jake Hampton singled and scored later in the inning on a single by leftfielder Justin Pugh to extend their lead. Chilcote gave up eight hits and struck out three in Game 1.
After answering back with a pair in the third, the Freddies batted around in the top of the fourth, plating four and grabbing a 7-4 advantage. Centerfielder Tyler Hathaway, first baseman C.J. Ruhl, rightfielder Jordan Radel and second baseman Justin Snyder all singled and scored for the Freddies in the fourth.
“I was surprised that Cole was up in the strike zone today,” said Highland coach Travis Church. “Usually that doesn’t happen, so he struggled a little bit for us, but we didn’t help him defensively.”
Chilcote got into trouble in the sixth and Hinkle came on in relief with a pair of shutout innings to preserve the Freddies’ Game 1 victory.
“Nate Chilcote is a sophomore and he’s throwing really well for us,” said Smith. “He’s had two wins the first week out so we are real pleased with where he is. I thought Thomas Hinkle came in and threw really well but both of those guys will tell you that it’s a team effort.”
Game 2 seemed to start out where Game 1 left off.
“I thought we had a real solid approach out of the gate,” said Smith. “We jumped out in the first inning and got three runs.”
Designated hitter Ty Fox doubled, Hathaway and Ruhl followed with singles. All scored as the Freddies batted around in the opening inning of Game 2.
Still leading 5-3, it all came apart for Fredericktown in the fourth.
“We were pitching from behind in the count,” said Smith. “That makes for long innings and it makes your defense get on their heels.”
Ten Scots came to the plate and seven of them scored including third baseman Shawn Coburn whose three-run homer gave his team a 10-5 lead.
“We stayed aggressive at the plate,” said Church. “Fredericktown jumped on us early again, but we kept battling back. And then, we got the home run by Shawn and that propelled us to better things.”
It was just a better game overall for Highland, which was error-free in Game 2.
“We were playing passive defensively,” said Church. “That’s not characteristic of how we like to play baseball. We want to attack the baseball both offensively and defensively.”
The Scots are trying to find their rhythm as a team.
“Today, we took a step in that direction,” said Church. “We’re still growing together a lot. We’ve got some big league matches coming up so we’ll see what happens.”