Rams work hard to end postseason baseball drought
May 09, 2018 03:39PM
● By Josh McFadden
By Josh McFadden | email@example.com
In the world of sports, sometimes it’s nice to be part of a streak, and sometimes you want desperately for it to end.
The Highland baseball team is hoping 2018 is the year the program finally returns to the state tournament.
The Rams haven’t participated in the state baseball tournament since 2005. To put an end to the dubious drought, Highland must finish at least fourth in the six-team Region 6.
“Our goal is the playoffs,” said head coach Nicholas Sasich. “Since my first day at Highland, that has been our goal. We need to get back into postseason play. The players have worked extremely hard for that goal, and it has been a long road getting to where we can compete for that.”
The regular season got off on a positive note. At 8-2 in non-region games, the Rams jumped out to one of their best start in years. Highland lit up the scoreboard in a 15-2 win over North Sevier on March 9 and in an 18-5 rout over Ogden on March 13. Heading into Region 6 play, Highland had won six of its previous seven games.
“I have liked our ability to win close games but also how we have come together as a team,” Sasich said. “We need to become more consistent top to bottom as we head into a very tough region. It’s important that we have all nine guys with the same approach.”
Region games won’t be easy, and the Rams found that out in their first three games of the league schedule. Facing Olympus in a three-game series, Highland dropped each contest against the Titans, April 10, 11 and 13.
On April 11, in the second game, Olympus got the upper hand in a 14-4 blowout. The other two games were close, though: a 6-3 Olympus win in the first game and a 1-0 slugfest in game three. Highland pitcher David Totzke was excellent on the mound, and the Rams worked together to allow just three hits on the day.
Another Ram pitcher, senior Spencer Thomas has also impressed Sasich. The four-year starter has been integral in the team’s performance this season. Still, Sasich maintains that everyone on the team has contributed on the field.
“[Thomas] has hit the ball extremely well but is our leader on the mound each and every time he is out there,” he said. “However, it has been a great team effort and all nine guys on the field have contributed to our early success.”
While the stakes are certainly higher in region games than they are in non-league matchups, Sasich approaches each day with the same commitment and focus, and he urges his players to do the same thing. He’s confident that if the players work hard and play as a single unit, good things will happen.
“I don't think we prepare differently as we approach region,” he said. “Ultimately, the things we stress on a daily basis are the things we lean on regardless of who we play. They have to be the foundation of everything we do all year. The key is to not let any game or any moment become too big. As cliché as it is, we can only take care of one pitch, one inning and one game at a time. We have to play our game and stay within our system.”
Highland will face all five region opponents three times in sets of three games. The Rams finish the regular season May 9 at home against West. The 5A state tournament will start May 15 and 16 on the home fields of higher-seeded teams. The final rounds of the tournament are set for May 19, 21–22 at Kearns High School.