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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Highlands Baseball 53, Post-Season Opponents 2

Impressive Post-Season Run Continues for Bluebird Baseball

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands junior Chris Bridewell makes a play at second in the region semifinal game against Beechwood on Tuesday.
Another region game meant another opportunity to continue the impressive trend of blowouts.

The Highlands Bluebirds baseball team (25-13 overall) did not disappoint in the 9th Region semifinals at UC Medical Center Stadium in Florence Tuesday. The Bluebirds put together another double-digit domination with an 11-1 win over the Beechwood Tigers (22-11) for their 11th straight region win and third win over the Tigers this season. Highlands run-ruled the first three post-season opponents.

Highlands will face Covington Catholic (25-10) in the region championship Thursday at 7 p.m. back in Florence. The Colonels won 2-of-3 meetings against the Bluebirds this year.

Highlands again played solid pitching and defense recording no errors to one for the Tigers. Senior Drew Rom started and threw four innings keeping his pitch count below 50 so he can pitch in the region championship game. Rom struck out four, walked one, allowed two hits and one earned run. Senior Hunter Dreves pitched the fifth and sixth allowing two walks, but striking out four and junior Tanner Juett pitched the seventh allowing one hit, one walk and recording one strikeout.

"It starts with pitching," said Jeremy Baioni, Highlands Head Coach. "We've thrown seven guys in the post-season and given up two runs. Having that pitching depth is huge. Offensively, we really didn't get started as quickly as I'd have liked in terms of squaring up and barreling a bunch of baseballs. They helped us a little by struggling to find the strike zone. But we took advantage of those things and that's the key. When the other team makes mistakes, you have to take advantage of and I think we did a good job of that early on. Later on, we finally barreled some balls and got into a little bit of a rhythm offensively."

Highlands is playing on a bigger turf field than most high school fields. But the experience playing at Great American Ballpark among other places has come in handy again this season.

"I usually play this field like I normally do," said Ethan Kavanagh, Highlands sophomore shortstop. "I just relax, see the ground ball, field the ball and throw it. There's nothing too much special about it. It's turf. It's easy to field. It's nice. Playing on any baseball field is going to be different. But we think about throwing with accuracy every single time. The big field doesn't really bother us."

Beechwood threw four pitchers. Junior Clay Trusty recorded two outs but allowed a hit, three earned runs, two walks and struck out one. The Tiger pitchers walked 13, hit three Highlands batters and allowed a combined eight hits and struck out nine. Senior Carson Fitters drew three bases on balls with juniors Kyle Winkler and Cooper Schwalbach drawing two each.

Highlands went 8-for-28 at the plate for a .286 clip compared to 3-of-22 for .136 for Beechwood. Senior Tyler Gulley continued his hot play at the plate going 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Junior Bryce Ziegler also went 2-for-4. Senior Grant Summers scored three times with Dreves, Fitters and Winkler recording two RBI each. Dreves tripled and Schwalbach doubled.

"Repetition means a lot. You just have to stay disciplined at the plate," said Joe Steiden, Highlands senior left fielder. "We're not trying to yank a ball or pull it down the line. It showed (Tuesday) with all those walks not swinging at balls."

Highlands led 3-1 after one and 8-1 after five innings. The Bluebirds added three more in the seventh.

The Bluebirds are now 15-3 in the last seven seasons in the region tournament. The only year they did not make it to the region championship game since 2012 came in 2013.

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