Highlanders hang on to win
HUNTINGTON -- Huntington High's baseball team entered the sixth inning against Winfield with a 6-0 lead and starting pitcher Kris Van Camp had not given up a hit.
The Generals, though, finally found life in their final two at-bats on a cold Monday night to get within a run. It would take a clutch relief effort by Matt Miller and a two-run double by Stephen Holland in the bottom of the sixth inning for the Highlanders (7-3) to finally nail down an 8-6 victory at Cook-Holbrook Field.
"Baseball's a game of momentum," Huntington coach Danny Harbert said. "We've got to take care of business better. We can't let a lead like that escape us."
Hunter Smith's two-run single was the highlight in a five-run first inning for Huntington High. Ronnie Musick delivered an RBI double in the fifth to build the lead to 6-0 for the Highlanders and fans started thinking no-hitter for Van Camp.
How quickly fortunes changed. Van Camp walked the first two batters in the Winfield sixth and Josh Bumgarner smashed a triple to right to bring in two runs and end the no-hit bid. The G enerals (4-5) got their third run on a Huntington High error. Tanner Bailey's two-run single cut the deficit to 6-5. Harbert had seen enough and pulled Van Camp in favor of Miller. With the tying run at second, Miller fanned Derek Whiteside and Chad Melton to end the rally.
In the bottom of the sixth, Miller walked (Ben Haikal came on to run), Nate Haikal ripped a double down the left-field line to put runners on second and third and Holland got them home with double to straight away center.
In the seventh, Jordan Clark launched a drive over the fence in center for a solo homer, but Miller retired Bear Bellomy on a grounder back to the mound to end the game.
"We got off to a good start, did good things at the plate," Harbert said. "Then the bats went silent."
Harbert attributed that to swinging too early against Generals starter Dana Harper, who went 5.1 innings.
"Sometimes you have to be more patient at the plate," Harbert said. "You've got to show discipline, try to make the guy work."
After Bumgarner's triple and the error that allowed the third run in, Harbert sensed it was time to make a pitching change.
"He was great up to that point," Harbert said of Van Camp. "Fatigue was starting set in."
When Miller got the ball, Harbert's instructions were simple. Throw strikes.
"He did a great job of shutting them down," Harbert said.
Then Holland came through with the clutch double in the home sixth.
"That hit was a huge answer to their rally," Harbert said. "Our bats had been kind of quiet lately. This was promising to see." The Highlanders finished with 11 hits.
Huntington High's next game is Thursday at Wayne. Game time is 5:30 p.m. Saturday, the Highlanders will be in Louisville to take on Ballard and Avon (Ind.) High in the Ballard Invitational. Avon's near Indianapolis and the team's nickname is Orioles.
Winfield's next game is Tuesday at home against Riverside.
WINFIELD 000 005 1 -- 6 3 0
HUNTINGTON HIGH 500 012 x -- 8 11 3
Harper, Whiteside (6) and Clark; Van Camp, Miller (6) and Shaver.
Hitting: (W) Clark HR, RBI; Bumgarner 3B, 2 RBIs. (H) N. Haikal 2-3, 2B; Holland 2-4, 2B, 2 RBIs; Smith 2-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Musick 2-3, 2 RBI; Van Camp RBI, Shaver RBI.