Bulldogs bounce back in Super Sectional, set up Highland for another state title run

Highland pitcher Trent Clemons was far from thrilled with his start on Monday night. The Bulldogs’ No. 2 starter found himself in an early 3-run hole against Mahomet-Seymour due to location issues.

Clemons settled down and regrouped and the Highland bats got busy, pumping out six runs over the next six innings as Highland punched its ticket to the Class 3A state tournament with a come-from-behind 6-3 victory in a Class 3A Super Sectional at Millikin University in Decatur.

Highland (31-6-1) making its first trip to state since winning the Class 3A title in 2015, will take on Lemont on Friday in a 1 p.m. semifinal matchup at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet for a berth in the championship game on Saturday.

“Each of these trips is really special and this one is no different because of the kids I had on the 2008 team (Danny Gifford) team was talking to our team today (at practice) about dealing with expectations because back then they expected to get there,” Highland coach Joel Hawkins said.

The day didn’t start well for Clemons. He struggled with his location and control in the top of the first and Mahomet-Seymour plated three runs for a quick 3-0 lead.

“It was really amazing because he went walk, walk, hit-by-pitch, hit-by-pitch, and it’s already 1-0 and nobody’s out,” Hawkins said. “Then one of the kid’s got hurt and that gave him time to reset and after that first inning, he gave up one hit the rest if the night and was terrific.”

Highland responded with a run in the bottom of the first, cutting the lead to 3-1.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Bulldogs got two runs to tie it as Deklan Riggs RBI double and Zane Korte’ RBI groundout made it a 3-3 game.

Highland took control in the bottom of the sixth as it used small ball and timely hitting to bring three more runs home to go up 6-3.

“We did a good job with the small ball,” the Hawkins said. “The run game was really good.”

The Bulldogs stole six bases to go with their 10-hit attack. Riggs and Trey Koishor both went 2 for 3 with an RBI and Jake Ottensmeier went 3 for 4 at the plate with two stolen bases and a run scored.

Clemons was lights out after the first inning as he picked up the complete game win going seven innings, striking out five with two walks and allowing three runs.

Highland will head north on Thursday in final preparation for the semifinal game with Lemont.

Hawkins believes this group is ready to finish strong in Joliet this weekend.

“We’re excited,” Hawkins said. “It’s just a special trip this time and I think the distance between this one and the last one makes it even more special.”