By Doug Brenneman, JOURNAL Sports
WINFIELD ? It is said that there are no moral victories in sports. While that may be true for professionals, it is not necessarily so at the prep level.
Winfield-Mount Union, with a record of 1-18, took Southeast Iowa Super Conference foe Highland High School into extra innings Monday before losing 6-5.
?It definitely has a moral victory for us,? W-MU coach Kenton Klopfenstein said. The Wolves had lost 16-1 at Highland June 4. ?We are going to build on this.?
Highland improves to 13-8 with the victory.
?This time of year it is good to win, no matter what,? Highland coach Seth Milledge said. ?This was not our best game. They played really good, a lot better than they played us the first time.?
Highland took a 2-0 lead in the first inning with hits by Luke Miller and Brody Burton.
W-MU answered in the bottom of the first when Brody Barton doubled and scored on a groundout by Brant Holtkamp. Barton tied the game with a run-scoring double in the third inning.
Highland took a 4-2 lead in the fourth on RBIs by Jordan Sosa and Robert Yoder. The Huskies made it 5-2 in the top of the fifth on an RBI-groundout by Dan Burton.
?I was not real pleased with how we started the game,? Klopfenstein said. ?We did not make a couple of plays I thought we should have. A lot of times we are not able to come back from something like that, it is right downhill, so that was definitely a plus to see.?
The Wolves rallied and put up two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. They missed scoring a third when Holtkamp made the third out at home trying to score on a wild pitch.
Holtkamp was faced with the same situation two innings later. This time he was successful and scored on a passed ball in the bottom of the seventh to send the game to extra innings.
Sosa drew a walk to start the eighth inning, stole second, went to third on Yoder?s single and scored on Miller?s single.
Highland tried to execute a double steal but Yoder was thrown out at home.
?I over-coached the heck out of this game,? Milledge said. ?I was way too aggressive. I tried to do things and they countered it perfectly. We put ourselves in bad situations. That?s on me. I take the blame for that. I over-coached because I did not think we were playing at the level we needed to be playing at. I tried to get us to that point, but it obviously didn?t work out very well.?
W-MU got a runner to second in the bottom of the eighth but stranded him.
W-MU left 11 men on base while Highland left nine.
?They have really improved,? Milledge said. ?For us, it was about execution. I thought Brady Hahn pitched a really good game and we did not back him up with our defense.?
The Huskies made two physical errors and some mental ones on offense and defense.
?We have to make the play when it?s in front of us,? Milledge said. ?We don?t have to make a spectacular play. Just body up and keep the ball in front. Let?s get a bunt down and move a runner over. We have to have a timely hit. We did not get that.?
Highland?s Brady Hahn started and gave up four hits, three walks with six strikeouts but was pulled with two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth inning. Winning pitcher Burton came on and got the last out of that inning. He hit a batter in the seventh, walked two, gave up a hit and a run but fanned all three outs. He got one out in the eighth before Cael Yeggy finished.
?We made them bring in their number one pitcher against us to try to shut us down,? Klopfenstein said. ?To make them bring in their ace is a win. It is progress. We are going to kick ourselves a little bit because we left a lot of guys on base. We were not able to come through with the clutch hit when we really needed one. We did get out of a lot of jams.?
W-MU?s Christian Gerot allowed four hits, four walks and six strikeouts before being pulled with one out in the seventh inning. Mitchell Niebuhr relieved and gave up two hits, three walks and fanned two. He took the loss.
?We played ugly, but this time of year, you have to just win,? Milledge said. ?Every night we have to try to be 1-0.?