Highline Bears hold off Borders 9th-inning rally to cap second win of season

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By Luke Olson

Eager to stay in after mowing down back-to-back batters in the top of the sixth, Cameron Jenkins would be pulled and walked off the mound being greeted with well-deserved hugs and fist bumps from teammates and coaches.

Head coach Josh Evans decided that his night was done and gave the Bears what they needed to get their second win of the season over the Beyond Baseball Borders, 6-3.

Prior to the sixth, Evans notified Jenkins that he would take him out after the first two batters he faced with his pitch count rising. Jenkins decided to make the most of it.

“I thought, ‘OK, I got to go in and I got to strike these guys out’,” Jenkins said. “I was kind of hoping he would let me go in against that third guy, but I knew it was a good thing to take me out. Other than that, I thought it was a good outing for me and the guys.

Besides a few pitches not working the way he would like, Jenkins would often fall back on his fastball to keep his opponents missing.

“I always go to my fastball,” Jenkins commented. “That is what sets everything up. My slurve was a little off and my slider was there a couple times, I was just having a little bit of control issues. But, just going back to my fastball helped a lot because it helped me get back in my grove and set me up for those other pitches.”

Jenkins finished 6 2/3 innings pitched, two runs (both earned), six hits, two walks and seven strikeouts. Both runs came in the third and fourth innings, but besides those hiccups—he breezed through the rest of the game, allowing just one hit after.

He would be replaced by Connor Bensen, who surrendered a walk and a base hit for the Borders to cut the lead, 6-3. Bensen held them off until being replaced by Tanner Van Lith in the top of the ninth to record the save.

Lith befuddled his first two batters—catching them both looking. The Bears seemed to have the win locked, but a throwing error by Carter Wallace would give the Borders hope for a ninth-inning rally. A base hit, a wild pitch and a walk later had Lith in a bases-loaded jam. Nicholas Houland hit a single to center to score two and Beyond Baseball would cut the deficit to one. But, Lith got his next batter to line out to end the game.

“I have a lot of confidence in Tanner,” head coach Josh Evans said. “He doesn’t have a lot of innings under his belt from not pitching last college season—but I have confidence in him.”

“It was a little scary there, but I figured he would get out of it.”

Much different than yesterday, the first inning on Friday was in the Bears favor.

Highline took advantage of the miscues on the mound that started with Colton Robinson trotting to first base after getting beamed on the first pitch. Seemingly irritated, his teammates took his anger out with their bats.

Wallace added a single and Kealen Martin would provide a sac fly to get the Bears on the board. But, more damage was added with two outs. Armond Swanson would hit a hard line drive up the middle to add two. Chase Anderson, who has been absent from the lineup, added another base hit to right field to bring in Blaine Wagner for a 4-0 lead.

Highline added two more in the bottom half of the fourth with two outs. Patience from Ben Ranieri and Alex Bryner would have Robinson up to the plate. He ripped a double past the diving left fielder, scoring both runners, but would attempt to stretch it into a triple only to be called out on an arguable edict. Robinson seemed to avoid the tag and sneak his left hand in there, but the ump thought different. Nonetheless, the Bears extended their lead.

“We are just about to be there,” Evans said regarding the offense’s improvement. “We are getting a lot more hits, were taking the off-speed in off-speed counts and were trying to hit the fastball. Were at least taking good swings in fastball counts and that is something we have been trying to work on all season.”

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