Region baseball co-championship comes to Highland
May 28, 2019 03:35PM
By Josh McFadden
The Rams battered the Eagles in their season sweep, outscoring Skyline 30-9. (Travis Barton/City Journals)
By Josh McFadden | [email protected]
Last season, the Highland baseball team snagged the fourth and final playoff spot in Region 6 and had a quick postseason exit. Things were much different this time around.
The 2019 Rams didn’t have to sweat it out down the stretch and wonder whether they’d qualify for the Class 5A state tournament. Highland posted an 11-4 league record, tying it with Olympus for the top spot. It was a five-game improvement from last year. Overall, the Rams went 18-6 during this year’s regular season.
Highland won one of three meetings with Olympus, knocking the Rams down to the No. 2 seed for the playoffs. However, Highland had great success against other league foes. It swept West and Skyline in the teams’ three meetings and beat both East and Murray two out of three times.
The pitching and fielding was solid for Highland in league play. The team didn’t allow more than six runs in any region game and held opponents to fewer than four runs nine out of 15 contests. Meanwhile, the Rams’ offense had some potent moments, including amassing 12 runs in a shutout of Olympus on April 17, piling up 19 runs and 13 runs in blowouts over East on April 23 and April 26, respectively, and scoring 14 runs in a 12-run win over Skyline on May 9.
Highland went into the playoffs on a roll, having won four games in a row and six of its last seven. The Rams had a tough matchup with Maple Mountain, the third-place team from Region 8. It wasn’t pretty from the start, as Maple Mountain battered the Rams with 11 runs in the opening inning on its way to a 19-3 rout. The outcome was a nightmare for Highland, though it did have some memorable individual moments. Max Moore smacked two home runs, and Will Koelliker added another one.
With the loss, Highland moved to the one-loss bracket, hoping to preserve its season. Unlike last year when the Rams bowed out of the tournament with a defeat in game two, they regrouped following the disappointing blowout and edged Woods Cross, Region 5’s No. 4 seed, 8-7. Moore hit another home run to help keep his team alive in the tournament. The victory improved Highland’s overall record to 19-7.
The Rams and Olympus Titans clashed for the fourth time this year when the rivals met May 17 in the one-loss bracket of the tournament. Olympus won the season series 2-1 and that trend continued in the playoffs. In a low-scoring affair, Olympus three runs in the second inning to overcome a 2-0 deficit proved to be enough.
Last season was the first time the Rams had reached the playoffs since 2005. The team’s back-to-back postseason appearances marks the first time it has achieved this feat this century. The 19 wins are almost the most for Highland in two decades.