NEW LONDON — In a district game, every play, every out and every run is critical. New London’s Shea Summerfield’s home run gave the Tigers their fourth run of the game and it turned out to be the winning run in a 9-3 victory over Highland.
New London takes its 14-3 record to play at Notre Dame Saturday for a district title. Highland ends its season at 8-7.
The Tigers scored nine runs on just four hits, but were gifted 12 walks and three hit batters, two errors and a dropped third strike that turned into a run. Four runs scored on passed balls or wild pitches.
“Their pitchers through over 180 pitches,” NL coach Brad Helmerson said. “We saw a lot of pitches with two strikes. If you get 15 base runners for free, you need to take advantage of that.”
Sommerfield’s blast was the result of some hard work on his batting ability.
“I fell into a slump earlier and started making some slight adjustments to my hands and where I was meeting the ball with the bat,” he said. “That’s my first home run this year.”
Whatever he was working on, it was the right thing. “Yep I’m going to keep it up. I’ll keep working on it until I perfect it.”
Highland tied the game at 1-1 when Trevor McFarland laced the ball so hard it bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double. He scored on Kaige Vonnahme’s hit.
New London scored three runs in the third inning, the first was Summerfield’s dinger, then two more scored on Cooper Schulte’s single.
“He has a ‘swerve’ like a slider curve and I swung at it, so I was ready to see it again,” Summerfield said of Yeggy. “I collected myself and was ready for it. I didn’t think it was going to go over but I got a little bit wind assistance I think.”
“Shae has been working hard because he wasn’t happy with the way he was swinging the bat,” Helmerson said. “He put a good swing on a good pitch and got a great result.”
Trailing 7-1, Highland mounted a rally in the sixth inning, getting a single from starting pitcher Cael Yeggy before Trevor McFarland parked one over the fence.
“Trevor has that power,” Highland coach Seth Milledge said. “he has hit a handful of balls out in practice lately.”
Highland had two on and one out when Luke Miller hit a grounder up the middle and New London got out of the inning on a double play. But an umpire then ejected Milledge for arguing the call.
“Here’s the deal, I see things through rose-colored glasses,” Milledge said. “I thought Luke beat out a single in the first inning and I thought he beat that one out too. I’m going to fight for my guys no matter what and in that situation we had our 2-3-4 guys coming up.”
A perfect situation for a rally was ended. The Highland seventh inning ended on a double play as well.
“That’s what we are capable of but we got to make those kind of plays earlier in the game,” Helmerson said. “I don’t think we played to our total potential and this is not a good time for that but maybe we will do that against Notre Dame.”
“I never want to get thrown out of the game because that takes the attention off of my players and puts it on me and that’s the last thing that I want,” Milledge said. “Hats off to my seniors and the work they put in over the years. We are really going to miss them.”