By Michael Finnegan / Special Contributor
After its 21-game winning streak vanished in the playoff opener on Friday, Highland Park settled in for a long day of baseball on Saturday, knowing it needed to sweep a doubleheader to keep its season alive.
That’s exactly what happened, as the Scots evened the best-of-three series against Irving MacArthur with a 10-2 victory, then eliminated the Cardinals with a 2-1 win in final game of the Class 6A Region II bi-district round at Scotland Yard.
That allows HP to advance to the area round, where the Scots will open a best-of-three series against Rowlett on Thursday.
Grant Howell threw a five-hitter and Kyle Burnett’s single in the top of the third drove in two runs in the series finale. Pitching on both sides was stellar, as Howell out-dueled MacArthur hurler Evan Bereuter.
“I was excited to be on the mound in this one,” said Howell. “Win and we’re still alive. That’s what I kept saying to myself.”
The senior fared well at the plate as well, hitting .500 for the series with an RBI.
The Scots (27-6) threatened in the top of the second with a one-out rally. Noah Williams drew a walk, and Howell’s line-drive single to left field advanced him to third base. But with one out and runners at the corners, HP hit into a double play to end the inning.
“It certainly was a pitcher’s duel,” said HP head coach Travis Yoder. “We’ve played a lot a baseball in the last 24 hours and the kids get tired. That probably had something to do with our lack of execution at the plate in the last game.”
Sawyer Lake started the top of the third with an infield single. He advanced to second on Adair’s base hit to shallow right, and the Scots had two on with no outs to set the stage for Burnett. The senior hit a deep drive in the gap to score both Lake and Adair for a 2-0 lead.
The Cardinals (15-14) put together their own rally in the bottom of the fourth inning. Ricky Boren reached base on a throwing error, and was driven in by Allan Griffin’s line shot to left field. But that was the only offense MacArthur could muster against Howell.
On Friday, the Cardinals used a two-hit shutout from pitcher Jake Lyons to take the series opener in Irving.
“We just couldn’t get anything going against Lyons,” Yoder said. “We were in a hole coming in to today’s doubleheader, but I was confident with our own pitching and liked our chances.”
In Game 2, the Scots blew open a close game in the sixth inning to back the pitching of William Adair.
“I can’t say enough about the job our pitching staff did this weekend and really all season,” said Yoder. “Sawyer Lake, William Adair, and Howell have been tremendous.”