|Five Errors Doom Bluebirds
|PHOTO: Jennifer Jones. Highlands senior shortstop Braden Becker makes a throw in the game against Ryle on Saturday.|
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The Highlands Bluebirds baseball team (21-17 overall) put together a nice rally in the bottom of the fourth.
But it came up short in a 6-4 loss to the Ryle Raiders (18-18) in the 9th Region Quarterfinals at University of Cincinnati Medical Center Stadium in Florence on Saturday. The two split the meetings during the regular season with Highlands winning 8-1 in Union on May 14 and Ryle winning 8-5 at Highland Park on May 26.
“These guys have a never say die attitude that goes all the way back to 2020 when Covid hit,” said Jeremy Baioni, Highlands Head Coach. “Those guys just figured out ways to work and get better. It’s no surprise they battled to the end. That’s how they’re built and what they’re made of. I’m proud of them. I’m proud of the seniors. It’s been such a pleasure to coach these guys.”
The Bluebirds have made seven appearances in the 9th Region title game since 2012 winning it four years in a row between 2015 and 2018 with state runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2018. Not counting the 2020 season wiped out by the Coronavirus 2019 pandemic, this marked just the second time during that span it did not happen. Highland last lost in the region quarterfinals on May 27, 2013 by a 3-2 score to St. Henry.
Highlands batted .354 (11-for-31) in the loss to .307 (8-for-26) for Ryle. But the Raiders took advantage of five Bluebird errors while committing none.
“We didn’t make the routine plays as well as we have been the last couple weeks,” Baioni said. “When you get to the regional tournament if you don’t make the routine plays, teams are going to take advantage of it. Tip your cap to Ryle. (The Raiders) took advantage of the fact we didn’t make some routine plays and were able to put up six runs. I think maybe two of those were earned.”
Highlands senior Jake Gulley threw a complete game striking out six. He also went 2-for-3 at the plate with a triple, one walk and two runs scored. He tripled in the bottom of the first inning and scored when senior Braden Becker singled to give the Bluebirds their lone lead at 1-0.
Becker went 2-for-4 with one run batted in and a run scored for the Bluebirds. Junior Ryne Wiseman went 2-for-2 with an RBI.
Ryle took a 2-1 lead in the top of the third. Senior designated hitter Nathan Belden singled and ultimately scored when sophomore left fielder Landon Sawyer singled. Sawyer then scored from first on two Highlands throwing errors. Sawyer went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI.
The Raiders extended the lead to 6-1 in the top of the sixth inning scoring four times with two out. Senior Jackson McGinnis singled in Sawyer before senior catcher Ryan Goodridge recorded a three-run single to right. Goodridge went 2-for-3 with three RBI.
Highlands started the rally in the bottom of the seventh when Gulley walked and Carris doubled him in. One out later, Becker singled Carris to third and Carris scored on a wild pitch. Carris then scored when Wiseman singled making the final score.
Highlands graduates 10 seniors from the team. They are Gulley, Carris, Becker, Braden Baioni, John Barth, Isaiah Lampkin, Vance Moore, Jason Noe, Dom Robinson and Evan Rom.