The Lone Tree baseball team won the rivalry, rubber match and the district championship on Saturday, beating school rival Highland 4-3 in eight innings.
The Lions grabbed the lead and put the pressure on early, scoring two runs on just one hit and three batters as Jovonte Squires came in on an RBI double by Shay Hudachek and he came in on an RBI ground out to make it 2-0 after one. Both pitchers shut the door on the offense for awhile after that with Highland’s Jacob Wilson sitting down the next six in a row on strikeouts, and Erik Murry of Lone Tree striking out eight batters in the first four innings.
Lone Tree scored their third run in the third off a single from Hudachek and a couple of errors which led to the 3-0 lead. Defensively, Lone Tree’s Murry took a no hitter into the fifth with two outs before Highland struck with two runs on a passed ball, and an RBI double from Chase Rath to make it 3-2.
Highland tied it up in the sixth with two runners on off errors and Colin Sexton coming around to score and make it 3-3, which it where the game sat through the seventh. Highland left a runner on in the eighth inning, and that is all Lone Tree needed in the bottom as they found a way to get the unearned winning run across the plate. With relief pitcher Chase Rath on the mound, a blooping fly ball to left field fell as no one could find it, Schillerstrom then stole second and hopped over the tag to land safely into scoring position. He then was moved over to third on a 1-3 play, 90 feet from the plate. Murry then stepped up with a 1-1 count and hit the walk-off single up the middle to score the 4-3 win and move Lone Tree on to the sub-state championship game.
Lone Tree head coach Steve Gibson talked after the game about Murry and how fitting it was that he got the game winner.
“How appropriate was it that he got the game winning hit in the bottom of the eighth, because he has just been outstanding all season,” Gibson said. “Another great, gutty performance, and he came in after the seventh and I said, ‘how do you feel?’ and he just looked at me and said, ‘I’m not coming out,’ and that was a good sign. You always want to be careful, I knew he threw a lot of pitches, but he gutted it out and to me he’s just scratching the surface of how good he is going to be, he’s only a junior.”
Highland was led at the plate by Rath who was 1-2 with an RBI, while Wilson threw 6 1/3 allowed three hits, three runs all earned, a walk and eight strikeouts.
Lone Tree was led by Hudachek who went 2-4 with two runs and an RBI, while Murry on the mound went all eight innings, allowed two hits, three runs, two earned, four walks and 12 strikeouts.
Lone Tree moves on to play Burlington Notre Dame who upset Van Buren at home 7-6. The Lion will play Tuesday at Washington.