SPARTA — In baseball, great pitching usually beats great hitting.
On Friday, the Highland Scots got a great pitching performance, as well as some timely hits, and rolled to a 9-0 Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference victory over Marion Elgin to clinch at least a share of the Red Division title.
“We got some great pitching out of Jason (Hertz). He’s been rock solid all season long,” said Highland coach Travis Church.
Hertz was nearly untouchable, striking out 12 Elgin batters and allowing just three hits. Only one of those hits was a real solid hit — by Justin Klee in the first inning. The other mark of a solid pitching performance is how many called third strikes he gets — Hertz had five.
The Highland senior retired the side in order in four innings, and no runner went past first until the final inning.
“We had a good defensive ballgame today. It’s nice when Jason doesn’t have to feel like he’s got to strike out 15. He’s capable, but it’s nice when he doesn’t have to,” Church said.
While Hertz was mowing down the Comets, the Highland hitters were slowly pecking away at Elgin pitchers C.J. Flach and Klee.
The Scots (12-7, 8-3 MOAC) scored once in the first on a long triple by Jett Swetland, then added two in the second on a two-run single by Hertz.
The Elgin pitchers were able to work out of a couple of jams in the next couple innings, but Highland broke the game wide open with a six-run sixth.
Hertz knocked in a run on a successful suicide squeeze bunt. Then Josh Gahm produced the big hit of the game with a three-run double.
“Josh came through in the last inning. He had two bad at bats but in the seventh, he was mentally tough enough and cleared the bases with a double,” Church said. “That made me feel more comfortable — having a nine-run lead. It was nice to see some of the kids step up and do the things they are capable of doing.”
Gahm finished the day with a single, triple and three RBI to lead the Scots. Hertz added two singles and drove in three runs, while Alec Harris had two singles. Swetland tripled, and Byron Belcher and Drew Huff both singled.
“The boys executed well today,” Church said. “Elgin always plays us tough. I’m never comfortable against them. We just take it inning by inning, and tonight we won four or five innings.
“If we continue to do the little things right, the big picture looks nice for us.”
The Scots will wrap up their MOAC regular season on Monday when they face Buckeye Valley. Game time is 5 p.m.