Highland baseball bows out early at state, but shows promise for future
Jun 18, 2018 16h34
By Josh McFadden
Third baseman Trevor Jones comes back for his senior season next year for the Highland baseball team. (Photo by Julie Shipman Photography)
By Josh McFadden | [email protected]
Though they had a short stay at the state tournament, the Highland Rams made tremendous progress this season.
Highland qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2005, placing fourth in Region 6. Once at state, the Rams, though underdogs in a pair of road games, didn’t back down and made both opponents work for every run and out.
After falling in its first game to Region 5 champion Viewmont 7-3, the Rams played at Region 8’s No. 3 team, Provo, in a game that went down to the wire.
Turns out it ended Highland’s season, but the Rams gave Provo everything it could handle.
After going scoreless in the top of the fourth inning, Highland held a 3-1 advantage. That’s when Provo unleashed its offense for seven runs to go up 8-3. The Rams fought back, though, putting up four runs of their own in the top of the fifth to close the gap to 8-7. It stayed that way until the sixth when Provo widened the margin to 10-7. In its last at-bat, Highland managed another run but couldn’t get any closer to lengthen the game and the season.
Highland out-hit Provo 10-7 and got doubles from Cole Peterson and Graydon Lambert. Head coach Nicholas Sasich was happy with his team’s effort but said there were too more mistakes.
“I do believe we competed in both games; however, we didn’t play near to our capabilities,” he said. “With it being our first playoff taste ever for this group, we needed to understand the margin for error shrinks that much more. Small mistakes are magnified on that stage, and we unfortunately had too many of those.”
Still, after the loss to Provo, Sasich had encouraging words for his players, many of whom built the foundation for a return to the state tournament over the past few seasons.
“I told them they should be proud of what they did for this program and this school,” he said. “They represented it with class and did something that hadn’t been done in a very long time here. I think they are proud to be the group that got in; however, I could tell they were disappointed we couldn’t get another game or two in the playoffs.”
Despite the quick exit, Sasich sees the value in reaching the state tournament and what it means for the future of the program.
“It’s a great example of how important a whole body of work is,” he said. “This year’s successes started three and four years ago when this group started really putting in the work. It doesn’t happen over night, and you really have to take a second and appreciate what it took to get there. It’s earned, not given. It builds huge momentum for the program moving forward. This is now the baseline and the standard. Anything less is not acceptable. But that standard had to be set. Now that it has been, every new group doesn’t want to be the team to not get there now.”
Highland brings back seven starters to next year’s squad. Sasich said catcher Max Moore, second baseman Isaiah Flores, third baseman Trevor Jones and pitcher Graydon Lambert—all of whom will be seniors next season—along with incoming junior shortstop Andrew Thomas, will lead the 2019 version of the Rams’ baseball team.
“These five guys are the cornerstones coming back,” he said. “They are either three- or four-year starters now and know what it takes to get to where we need to be. With what we have coming back, I think this group needs to be really pushing for a top spot in the region. We have a lot of work to do; however, we have a great foundation to build upon.”