LISBON — This wasn’t the best win Seth Milledge has had in three years as head baseball coach at Highland.
That came two years ago, when his Huskies stunned North Linn to earn a trip to the state tournament.
But this was the biggest comeback victory he’s had. And it saved the season.
“I thought the fans were going to run me out of town,” Milledge said, after Highland’s 12-10 survival of Belle Plaine in a Class 1A district opener Tuesday night. “I know we’ve accomplished a lot in the last couple of years, but this would have been a big loss for us, the way we’ve been playing.”
Highland (17-11) had to stave off being run-ruled before it could even think about a rally. The Huskies were down, 10-0, as they came to the plate in the bottom of the fourth inning.
That’s right, 10-0.
“I thought we were going to quit, but we didn’t,” said Highland’s Brody Burton. “We just battled back in. We put the ball in play and made them make a (defensive) play. They didn’t really execute that well.”
Highland draws HLV in a district semifinal here Thursday night at 5.
Robert Yoder’s two-run single capped a six-run fourth that gave Highland significant life. Two more runs in the fifth made it anyone’s game.
Errors, stolen bases and a wild pitch allowed eventually tied it at 10. Burton’s line-drive single to right field then plated the winning run, with Burton coming all the way around to score on the play when Belle Plaine’s right fielder let the hit get past him and the relay play back to the infield went awry.
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“He just laid it down the middle,” Burton said. “We’ve been practing going oppo all year. I just swung a little late, went oppo, hoping to get a hit. It went through his legs, I kept going.”
“Just pick up a run to get us going,” Milledge said. “Then it’s score two, score three. We just kept rolling after that. Our kids have played a lot of baseball, we know how to play the game. We didn’t show it early. But for us to continue to play and eventually get us where we were there, to be fortunate enough to win that game is a testament to them.”
Belle Plaine ended its season with a 9-12 record.
In the nightcap, second-ranked Lisbon (31-0) remained the state’s lone undefeated team with a 10-0, five-inning win over English Valleys (6-14).
Lisbon was methodic in beating the Bears, scoring once each in the second and third innings, twice in the fourth and five times in the sixth.
Winning pitcher Brett Givens allowed just two hits and had a run-scoring triple. Austin Krob had RBI doubles in the fourth and fifth.
The Lions will host Lone Tree in the second district semifinal Thursday at 7 p.m.
“You know this time of year,” said Lisbon Coach Travis Bennett. “We’re 1-0 tonight, but we wake up tomorrow, and we’re 0-0. Six more games, all one at a time. But you look at it as six more games. That’s all you’re worried about. You are not worried about the previous 31.”
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