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SPARTA — With two runners aboard and one out in the eighth inning, Fredericktown’s Lincoln Cunningham stepped into the batter’s box and, after spoiling off several pitches, he sent a ball into right field to score Brady Williams to give the Freddies a 6-5 win over Highland on Friday.
“I knew that was it right off the bat,” Cunningham said. “It was crazy knowing my team is behind me and ready to be with me. It was awesome.”
Williams got on board to lead off the eighth via a single and he made it all the way to third. Jake Partington was hit with a pitch to bring him aboard, and he stole second to put runners on second and third with Cunningham stepping to the plate.
“That’s probably the best at bat that I’ve seen Lincoln take with him being a sophomore,” Fredericktown coach Ryan Hathaway said. “He just kept battling and finally got a good pitch to hit and just tried to put it in play.”
The Scots carried a 4-2 lead into the sixth inning, before the Freddies exploded for three runs. Zach Vogelsang got a bat on the ball with Clem Cunningham and Williams aboard. Vogelsang touched first, but a series of Highland miscues allowed the Freddies to take advantage. Three errant throws allowed all three Fredericktown runners to score to push the lead to 5-4.
“Every thing is a learning lesson,” Highland coach Don Kline said of the circus inning. “It’s just one of those things where we need to play strong all the way through.”
Highland bounced back in the top of the seventh. Mack Anglin crushed a double to the fence to score Branton Howard, who was pinch running for Clay Matthews. The run tied the game up at 5 heading into the bottom of the seventh. Fredericktown was in good shape for a walk off in regulation, but Highland pitcher Tate Tobin got out of a bases-loaded jam with a strikeout.
Fredericktown got on the board first with Nick Cunningham and Caleb Sheriff each scoring in the first inning. The Scots quickly rallied in the second to notch three runs. An RBI double by Jarin Vasquez brought home Reese Weissenfluh, and Vasquez later scored on a single by Liam Garrett to put Highland ahead 3-2 heading into the bottom of the second.
Tobin and Fredericktown pitcher Mason Finnell combined for 12-straight outs, with Ty Hatfield breaking the streak with a single in the bottom of the fourth. Highland’s next run came in the fifth with Tobin scoring on a single by Anglin to push the lead to 4-2. Tobin had another three outs in a row in the bottom of the fifth, but then the Freddies used their strong baserunning in the sixth to take the lead, 5-4.
Tobin pitched all eight innings for the Scots, giving up six hits with three earned runs, nine strikeouts and a walk to his credit.
“He’s just a competitor,” Kline said. “He pitched one heck of a game tonight and you hate to see him not come away with a W.”
Finnell started on the mound for the Freddies, lasting six innings seven hits, three earned runs and two walks. Ty Hatfield came on in relief and threw two innings, allowing three hits, an earned run with a strikeout.
Tobin, Anglin and Vasquez each had a pair of his for the Scots, while Lincoln Cunningham was the lone Freddie with two knocks.
Highland fell to 7-3 on the year with a 6-2 mark in the Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference. Their next outing is on the road Monday against Cardington, starting at 5:15 p.m.
Fredericktown put together back-to-back big wins over Highland and now sits at 10-3 overall and 7-1 in the league, now sitting alone in second place in the standings. The Freddies have a tough matchup Monday against the league-leading Bulldogs, hosting East Knox at 5:15 p.m.
“We’ll enjoy it tonight, but we’ve got East Knox on Monday,” Hathaway said. “They’re the top team right now as far as league and in our district. It’s going to be challenging for us to try to make sure we have enough pitching ready to go for next week. It’s all we can do to play the game and see what happens. Hopefully this gives us a little confidence going into next week.”