|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands senior D.J. Mills connects for one of his two hits in Tuesday's game against Simon Kenton. Mills scored twice in the 11-5 Highlands win.|
Host Highlands followed up Monday's four home run performance with five more in an 11-5 thrashing of the defending state runner-up Simon Kenton Pioneers (10-9) on Tuesday. Todd Ramey went 3-for-3 with two blasts for three runs batted in and three runs scored. Teammate Joseph Martin went 3-for-4 with two home runs for four RBI and two runs scored with Jake Whitford adding a three-run blast. Martin and Ramey also homered in Monday's win over Bishop Brossart.
"I don't really think anyone is trying to hit home runs," Whitford said. "We're just seeing good pitches, getting good pitches on them and letting (the bat) do the rest."
The Bluebirds have 18 home runs on the season. Ramey and D.J. Mills have five on the season with Martin and Whitford contributing four each.
"We've talked about having a plan when you go to the plate every day," said Jeremy Baioni, Highlands Head Coach. "Our guys have done an excellent job the last few days of having a plan and executing the plans. We also stress that not all balls are going to be hit hard. Sometimes, a pitcher is going to beat you. They understand that and make it as hard as they can to get out."
Highlands (18-4) has won four in a row. The Bluebirds also won two games at Cincinnati La Salle on Sunday.
Lou Bunning threw four innings to pick up the pitching win. He is 4-1 on the season. Bunning struck out six, walked two and allowed five hits in the win. Jacob Noe pitched in the fifth and sixth innings before Mitch Jones finished Simon Kenton off in the seventh with three strikeouts. Noe also had three strikeouts.
"We're finally in a rhythm of playing every day," Baioni said. "That's the biggest thing. You have to be able to get out here so you can get game speed repetitions. It's tough to mimic in practice. Our pitchers have done a great job all year."
Ryan Franzen took the loss for the Pioneers. He pitched five innings allowing 11 hits, nine earned runs and two walks to go with three strikeouts.
Highlands outhit Simon Kenton, 14-8. Mills went 2-for-2 with two runs scored for the Bluebirds.
Robert Smith and Trent Kincaid had two hits each to lead Simon Kenton and Sean Lawrence homered. Smith scored two runs.
Simon Kenton struck first with two in the second. Smith singled and ultimately scored on a throwing error. Ryan Franzen was hit by a pitch and pinch-runner Bobby Cole scored when Kyle Casson grounded out.
But the Bluebirds came back to tie the game in the second. Mills walked and Martin homered to right field.
The Pioneers took their final lead in the third at 3-2. Smith doubled and scored on an error.
But Highlands exploded for six runs on seven hits in the bottom of the third to go up for good at 8-3. Conner Kreeger and Ramey led off with singles and Whitford homered to center. Mills then singled before Martin hit his second two-run blast. Bunning and took third on a Grayson Heck single before Alex Veneman hit a sacrifice fly to bring him home.
Simon Kenton scored twice in the fourth to trim the margin to 8-5. The runs came on Lawrence's home run. But Ramey responded with a solo shot to left in the bottom of the frame to extend the lead back to 9-5. Ramey then hit a two-run blast in the sixth to make the final score.
Highlands plays host to Walton-Verona on Thursday. Game time is 5:30 p.m.