Facing elimination and one of the top pitchers in the state, Highland Park showed it wasn’t finished yet.
The resilient Scots did just enough against Jesuit’s Kyle Muller to force extra innings, then surged to a 4-2 victory in eight innings to even up a Class 6A Region II quarterfinal series on Friday.
After each team won on the other’s home field the series will shift to a neutral site for a third and deciding game at noon Saturday in Prosper.
“These guys didn’t want the season to end just yet,” said HP head coach Travis Yoder. “We went up there swinging, we did our jobs, and we executed when we needed to.”
Jacob Palisch, Jesuit’s other standout lefthander, pitched a no-hitter on Thursday in the series opener to set up a possible sweep for the Rangers over the Scots for the second consecutive season.
On Friday, however, Sawyer Lake pitched six strong innings and drove in a run for HP, while William Wessman hit a two-run, go-ahead double in the top of the eighth to put the Scots (30-7) in front for good.
“Sawyer throws strikes, he doesn’t walk many, he’s got nerves of steel, and he goes out there and does his job,” Yoder said. “He puts us in a position to win.”
Muller, a hard-throwing southpaw who has signed with Texas and will likely be an early-round pick in next month’s MLB draft, struck out seven in the first four innings before HP broke through in the fifth.
That’s when Kage Forrest was hit by a pitch, Grant Howell singled with one out, and Lake singled home pinch-runner Jackson Dugger.
Jesuit (30-7) had scoring chances in the next two innings against Lake but couldn’t capitalize. The Rangers had a pair of two-out singles in the fifth and stranded a runner on third after a leadoff single by Muller in the sixth.
So the score remained 1-0 until the bottom of the seventh, when Mark Ready drew a leadoff walk — leading to Lake’s exit — went to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a bunt, and scored on Jared Kengott’s sacrifice fly to tie the score.
Muller finished with 10 strikeouts, giving him 40 in three postseason starts. But he finished with a no-decision after yielding to the bullpen following a leadoff walk in the eighth. That runner eventually was thrown out at home, but with the bases loaded and one out, Wessman doubled down the left-field line off J.J. Montenegro. Jack Sides followed with a sacrifice fly to make the score 4-1.
The Rangers made things interesting in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases with one out thanks to a Bryce Bonner double, a walk, and an error. But two ground balls led to only one run.
“It could have went either way,” said Jesuit head coach Brian Jones. “They took advantage of their situations, and we really didn’t have any clutch hits.”
Howell pitched the final two innings for HP to pick up the victory. It’s unclear which pitcher will start the series finale for either team.
Both squads already have experience in Game 3 situations — the Scots against MacArthur in the bi-district round and the Rangers against Belton in the area round. In both instances, the team that lost the first game won the series.