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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Eight District Championships and Counting for Highlands Baseball

Bluebirds Run-Rule Thoroughbreds

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands senior first baseman Trey Gabbard makes a play on a foul ball in the 10-0 win over Newport Central Catholic on Monday. Highlands won its eighth straight district championship with the victory.
It took a trip through the line-up, but the hosts eventually pulled away for yet another 36th District championship.

The Highlands Bluebirds baseball team (27-9 overall) took down the Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds (12-22), 10-0 in six innings Monday for the eighth straight district championship. The Bluebirds have won 42 straight against district opponents including 13 straight against NewCath dating back to a 3-1 loss to NewCath in the 9th Region championship on May 31, 2012.

"We hit the ball really hard toward the end," said Jeremy Baioni, Highlands Head Coach. "We put together good at-bats. We hit some balls hard that we made outs out. But we squared a lot up there toward the end."

Seniors Grady Cramer and Tanner Juett combined to throw a one-hitter. Cramer struck out six and walked two with Juett striking out one. NewCath went 1-for-19 for a .053 average.

On the other side, Highlands batted .429 as a team going 12-for-28 with two walks. NewCath committed the game's lone error.

The majority of the Bluebird hits came from the top two spots. Junior Ethan Kavanagh went 3-for-3 with a double, two runs batted in and four runs scored at lead-off and senior Chris Bridwell went 4-for-4 with a double, RBI and two runs scored.

"Sometimes, it might take an at-bat or two to get ready," Bridwell said. "It's always important to stay focused. Coach Baioni just mentioned an example of Cooper (25-8) losing (1-0 to Boone County) in the first round of (the 33rd) district (semifinals). (The Jaguars') season is over so we always have to be ready to play." 

Highlands pulled away with three in the bottom of the fourth. Cramer hit a two-run home run to put the Bluebirds up 6-0.

The Bluebirds ended the game with four in the bottom of the sixth. Senior Cooper Schwalbach ended the game with a double and two RBI.

"We talked about how baseball is such a different game than other sports," Baioni said. "There are so many upsets because all you need is one good arm that has a good day. While we both were going to advance to the regional tournament, I feel that it's important to have momentum and to be playing well going into the regional tournament."

Highlands plays in the 9th Region quarterfinals at either Beechwood or University of Cincinnati Medical Center Park on Saturday. Possible opponents at this point are 35th District runner-up Covington Catholic, 34th District runner-up Dixie Heights or the loser of the 33rd District championship Tuesday between Boone County and Ryle.

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