Newspaper Article Archive of
The play of Highland’s nine juniors is a big reason that the Huskies are 23-6 with a 13-game winning streak, but it was a pair of freshmen that stepped up in the early innings of a 7-0 district championship over New London on Saturday.
Brody Burton tossed four shutout innings, while Trey Lasek’s fourth inning single scored two crucial runs to add to the 1-0 lead.
Coach Seth Milledge had considered starting junior Caleb Brase, but Brase had been on the mound for a 4-3 victory over New London on June 17, so Milledge turned to the freshman to give the Tigers a look they hadn’t seen.
“We went with Brody and obviously he pitched really well and did a very good job for us,” Milledge said. “We’re just really proud of him giving us what he did, and then obviously to add on as much as we did late with runs allowed us to put Chase in there and get him warmed up for Tuesday.”
It looked like New London might get on the scoreboard early as a single and two walks loaded the bases with one out in the first inning. Highland’s freshman stayed poised and a ground ball to second turned into a double play.
“Certainly a big play, a great play by our middle infielders,” Milledge said. “They’ve put themselves in those positions and they’ve done it all year, I fully expected them to do that. It was a great pitch by Brody to get us out of there.”
Burton allowed just two more singles over the next three innings.
Bill Burton gave Highland an early 1-0 lead, reaching with a two-out single and scoring on a wild pitch, but the Huskies had just one baserunner in each of the next two innings.
Caleb Brase and Josh Michel got the offense going with singles to lead off the fourth, and Trey Lasek drove them in to put the Huskies up three. Trent Lasek made it four consecutive hits to add another run. In the fifth inning, Bill Burton scored again on a double steal, and Trey Lasek came through again with a 2-out single to plate courtesy runner Robert Yoder.
“Trey is a very good ball player,” Milledge commented. “At the beginning of the season, we didn’t really know what we had. We knew he was a great athlete, but we didn’t know if he was a great baseball player.”
“What he’s been able to do lately… He had a rough last couple of games, but we’re not going to give up on a kid who’s still getting on base and still doing those things. Obviously he came through tonight with two hits and three RBIs and did a very good job for us. Just a quality ball player, and doing that as a freshman, again another freshman on this team that’s making an impact, that is great.”
Chase Rath took the mound with a 4-0 lead and struck out the side in the fifth. He walked two in the seventh, but finished the game with his sixth strikeout in three innings.
Rath was also 2-4 at the plate with a steal and an RBI. Garret Colbert and Josh Michel each went 2-3.
Highland will face North Linn in a substate game on Tuesday in Solon. The Lynx (34-9) are ranked sixth in class 1A and are led by freshman Jake Hilmer, who has an ERA of 0.46 over 75 2/3 innings and has a batting average of .467 at the plate.
North Linn graduated three players from the squad that beat undefeated Van Buren 6-3 in the state quarterfinal last year. The young Lynx used a lineup of five sophomores, three freshmen and a junior in a 3-1 district final win over Lisbon.
“We’re going to go up there and put our best foot forward against them,” said Coach Milledge. “We haven’t seen them this year, but looking at the stats, we’re very similar. We like to steal bases, we like to hit and run. Who knows, anything can happen in the postseason. We’re just going to put our best foot forward and see if we can get another W.”
Highland avenges losses to Lions
The Highland Huskies saw their season end in districts with a loss to Lone Tree in each of the past three seasons. The Lions won in extra innings on their way to the state tournament in 2014 and again on the way to substate in 2015. Senior Spencer Wieland and the Huskies were not about to let that happen again, taking a 7-0 lead in the first two innings of a 10-0 five-inning victory.
“This was the game we were looking forward to the most, just to get revenge,” Wieland said.
“It feels great to be able to beat them and take it over, especially as big as we did, 10-0… it feels even better than anything.”
On Tuesday, Highland took a 6-0 first inning lead, but didn’t score another until the fourth inning. On Thursday, the Huskies scored in each inning. Wieland led the game off with a walk and scored the first run, eventually walking in all three at bats and scoring three runs.
“We figured if we got on them early, it would just break them down and we could take advantage of that, said Wieland. “We were more consistent at the plate, and once we got on them, we weren’t making little mistakes. We were trying to do everything right just to make sure we could get this game in the bag.”
Chase Rath allowed two hits and a walk over four innings, striking out six.
“I was just trying to throw strikes, not walk anybody, and keep a low pitch count,” said Rath, who was also 3-3 at the plate.
Caleb Brase was 3-3 at the plate as well, with two doubles and three RBI. Trent Lasek had a double and two RBI, while Garret Colbert was 2-3 with an RBI.
Coach Seth Millegdge wasn’t surprised that his team took care of business in the district semifinal. “Anytime you come out and you have Chase Rath on the mound doing what he does, and you have Spud Wieland, Chase and Billy Burton hitting at the top of your lineup doing what they’re doing, you feel really fortunate and really good going in,” Millege said.
“We’re playing with confidence, you can tell. Our guys are even keel. Nothing gets us too up or too down. We’ve got a business like mentality right now, we’re just trying to win games and keep this going.”
Huskies strike early in district play
Highland took a 4-0 lead before Holy Trinity could record an out and cruised to a 12-2 six-inning victory in the first round of the district playoffs on Tuesday.
Spencer Wieland doubled to lead off the first inning, the first of five straight Huskies to reach base as Highland took a 6-0 lead after one inning.
Bill Burton, Trent Lasek, Logan Harbison and Jake Wood each went 2-3 with two RBI. Michel allowed two runs on four hits and four walks over six innings, striking out five. The Huskies stole 15 bases, led by Burton with five and Caleb Brase with three.
Chase Rath gave the Huskies an 11-2 lead with a solo shot in the sixth.
“I just wanted to hit it solid somewhere,” said Rath of his third home run of the season.
The Highland offense scored 12 runs on 10 hits.
I think we were just ready to go,” said Coach Seth Milledge of the big win, “they’ve played a lot of baseball together and they know what they’re doing.”
“We were aggressive on the basepaths, we had timely hits, we were able to put pressure on a young team and were fortunate enough to ten-run a team and get us started in the right direction to hopefully more success in the postseason here.”