GROVE CITY — Things started out OK for the Highland Fighting Scots. They were in their accustomed place at this time of the year, battling for supremacy in Ohio Division III baseball.
With a 2-0 lead over league rival North Union in the third inning, it appeared as if things were going swimmingly. Jarred Ulrey (1-for-3) and Garrett Ulrey (3-for-4) each socked a double. The latter getting an RBI and scoring later in the inning.
Suddenly, though, the house fell in on the Scots.
A barrage of North Union hits and two Highland pitchers later, the Scots were being sent home, reeling from a season-ending 11-2 clubbing.
What followed in the top of the fourth was a six-run, five-hit outburst eventually became a game total of 15 hits. Highland managed nine hits of its own.
“North Union started seven seniors against us,” said Highland coach Travis Church. “They played like seniors are supposed to play. You look at our ball club and we’ve got good players and we expect to be here, playing in Grove City, or wherever the districts are. That’s our expectations every year. It’s disappointing when you can’t advance, but coming back next year, our expectations are going to be right back here again, playing in the district semifinal.”
Highland will be losing a few key seniors. For them, this game was their last in the Highland baseball program.
“Jake Hampton (1-for-3) did a nice job for us in the leadoff spot,” said Church. “He’s a four-year letterman. Lance Stambaugh was solid behind the plate catching. He wasn’t expecting to catch, but came into a tough situation for us. Shawn Coburn, who was a transplant from Whitehall, he did a good job being in our program for a first-year guy. I think he had his eyes wide open a lot of times, not sure what was going on, but he really did a nice job.
“Justin Pugh (1-for-4), our starting leftfielder and pitcher, he finished out the game today. I am really happy for that kid. He’s come a long way since his freshman year as far as maturity and so forth.”
Highland’s baseball team can do nothing else but set their sights on next spring and carry on the tradition.
“We have a little saying that, ‘With tradition, comes responsibility,’” said Church.
North Union, however, moves on to the Division III Central District Final, where it will face East Knox on Wednesday. The game, scheduled for 4:30 p.m., will be played at Grove City.